This multi-week project begins with a measurement of baseline consumptive behavior followed by three weeks of working to reduce the use of water, energy, high-impact foods, and other materials. The assignment uses an Excel spreadsheet that calculates direct energy and water use as well as indirect CO2 and water use associated with food consumption. After completing the project, students understand that they do indeed play a role in the big picture. They also learn that making small changes to their lifestyles is not difficult and they can easily reduce their personal impact on the environment.
In this hands-on activity, students explore whether rooftop gardens are a viable option for combating the urban heat island effect. The guiding question is: Can rooftop gardens reduce the temperature inside and outside of houses?
In this learning activity, students use a web-based geologic timeline to examine temperature, CO2 concentration, and ice cover data to investigate how climate has changed during the last 715 million years.
In this activity, students investigate soil erosion and how a changing climate could influence erosion rates in agricultural areas. This activity is part of a larger InTeGrate module called Growing Concern.
This activity engages learners in examining data pertaining to the disappearing glaciers in Glacier National Park. After calculating percentage change of the number of glaciers from 1850 (150) to 1968 (50) and 2009 (26), students move on to the main glacier-monitoring content of the module--area vs. time data for the Grinnell Glacier, one of 26 glaciers that remain in the park. Using a second-order polynomial (quadratic function) fitted to the data, they extrapolate to estimate when there will be no Grinnell Glacier remaining (illustrating the relevance of the question mark in the title of the module).
This is a hands-on activity students design, build, and test. They compare the energy-generating capacities of vertical- and horizontal- axis wind turbine prototypes they have built as potential sources for power in a home.
In this activity, learners use the STELLA box modeling software to determine Earth's temperature based on incoming solar radiation and outgoing terrestrial radiation. Starting with a simple black body model, the exercise gradually adds complexity by incorporating albedo, then a 1-layer atmosphere, then a 2-layer atmosphere, and finally a complex atmosphere with latent and sensible heat fluxes. With each step, students compare the modeled surface temperature to Earth's actual surface temperature, thereby providing a check on how well each increasingly complex model captures the physics of the actual system.
This activity in a case study format explores ice loss from the Greenland ice sheet by way of outlet glaciers that flow into the ocean. Students do basic calculations and learn about data trends, rates of change, uncertainty, and predictions.
In this activity, students conduct an energy audit to determine how much carbon dioxide their family is releasing into the atmosphere and then make recommendations for minimizing their family's carbon footprint.
Hands-on laboratory activity that allows students to investigate the effects of distance and angle on the input of solar radiation at Earth's surface, the role played by albedo, the heat capacity of land and water, and how these cause the seasons. Students predict radiative heating based on simple geometry and experiment to test their hypotheses.