Students investigate passive solar building design with a focus on heating. Insulation, window placement, thermal mass, surface colors, and site orientation are addressed in the background materials and design preparation. Students test their projects for thermal gains and losses during a simulated day and night then compare designs with other teams for suggestions for improvements.
This activity from NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory introduces students to the current scientific understanding of the greenhouse effect and the carbon cycle. The activity leads them through several interactive tasks investigating recent trends in atmospheric carbon dioxide. Students analyze scientific data and use scientific reasoning to determine the causes responsible for these recent trends. By studying carbon cycle science in a visual and interactive manner, the activity provides students with a conceptual framework with which to address the challenges of a changing climate.
In this Webquest activity, students assume roles of scientist, business leader, or policy maker. The students then collaborate as part of a climate action team and learn how society and the environment might be impacted by global warming. They explore the decision making process regarding issues of climate change, energy use, and available policy options. Student teams investigate how and why climate is changing and how humans may have contributed to these changes. Upon completion of their individual tasks, student teams present their findings and make recommendations that address the situation.
This video segment, adapted from NOVA scienceNOW, addresses how new technology can help monitor and modernize the infrastructure of the U.S. power grid, which is ill-equipped to handle our increasing demand for electricity. Video provides a great overview of how electricity is generated and how the grid works.
In this activity, students work in groups, plotting carbon dioxide concentrations over time on overheads and estimating the rate of change over five years. Stacked together, the overheads for the whole class show an increase on carbon dioxide over five years and annual variation driven by photosynthesis. This exercise enables students to practice basic quantitative skills and understand how important sampling intervals can be when studying changes over time. A goal is to see how small sample size may give incomplete picture of data.
This simplified animation of a geothermal power plant from the U.S. Department of Energy illustrates commonalities with traditional power-generating stations. While there are many types of geothermal power plants, this animation shows a generic plant.
This video is narrated by climate scientist Richard Alley. It examines studies US Air Force conducted over 50 years ago on the warming effects of CO2 in the atmosphere and how that could impact missile warfare. The video then focuses on the Franz Josef glacier in New Zealand; the glacier is used to demonstrate glaciers formation, depth of snow fall in the past, and understand atmospheric gases and composition during the last Ice Age. Supplemental resources are available through the website.
This short video, is the fifth in the National Academies Climate Change, Lines of Evidence series. It focuses on greenhouse gases, climate forcing (natural and human-caused), and global energy balance.