Integrating Climate Change + Other Earth Science Topics with Biology + Physical Science

Integrating Climate Change + Other Earth Science Topics with Biology + Physical Science

BAESI is developing a series of lesson plans designed to help teachers integrate climate change and other Earth science concepts with the other sciences. Part of our motivation stems from a desire to help high school teachers integrate these critically important topics with biology, chemistry, and physics using the NGSS High School Three-Course Model being implemented in many secondary schools today. The lessons also link to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in language arts and math and California’s Environmental Principles and Concepts.

The lessons are adaptable for students in grades 4-12, with numerous adaptations and extensions to help meet the needs of all learners.

Presented in the 5E Instructional Model, the impactful framework helps you and your students:

  1. Engage
  2. Explore
  3. Explain
  4. Enrich / Extend
  5. Evaluate

Each lesson contains these elements to help you integrate them into your instruction:

  • Overview
  • Guiding questions
  • Standards alignment: Next Generation Science Standards, CCSSs, and California’s Environmental Principles and Concepts
  • Teacher background
  • Materials and preparation
  • Teaching suggestions for engaging students in the 5E Model
  • Links to resources to help you and your students expand your knowledge and skills

Each lesson seeks to engage students with one or more scientific phenomenon. Students also gain experience with the scientific method while conducting investigations and/or researching the phenomena. (A good list of other phenomena you might incorporate is here.)

The free lesson plans that connect to climate change issues include:

We hope you and your students enjoy the simulations, investigations, and wide-variety of other activities. We’d love to hear your feedback, including ideas for improvements as the lessons continue to evolve!

 

Iceberg
Student shadows on pavement
Pikas Models + Climate Change lesson plan
"Albedo, Melting Ice, and Feedback Loops" lesson plan
Albedo, Melting Ice, and Feedback Loops Lesson Plan

Albedo, Melting Ice, and Feedback Loops Lesson Plan

In BAESI’s new “Albedo, Melting Ice, and Feedback Loops Lesson Plan” lesson, students gain experience with the scientific method while they do two experiments to learn about how changing the reflectivity of Earth’s surface materials and feedback loops impact Earth’s systems: Students gain experience with the scientific method while they do two experiments to learn about how changing the reflectivity of Earth’s surface materials and feedback loops impact Earth’s systems:

  1. Albedo (differences in reflectivity of surfaces)
  2. Melting of ice on land and sea
  3. Feedback loops

First, the class goes outside to observe the phenomenon of albedo first-hand. Then they design experiments to test the important role albedo plays in determining how much incoming solar radiation is absorbed by a substance. They create diagrams to illustrate the process and the concept of feedback loops.

In Part II of the lesson, students investigate two ways that the melting of ice impacts Earth’s systems. They test how floating ice in a container (representing sea ice) and ice melting from outside a container (representing ice on land) affect the container’s water level.

  • Students discover that melting land ice (glaciers) raises sea level, but the melting of sea ice does not.
  • Melting sea ice does, however, reduce albedo and thus lead to more absorption of solar radiation and more warming.

They connect their results to the concept of a positive feedback loop and how it can greatly magnify the impact of an initial change in a system, in this case how warming leads to melting ice, lowered albedo, and more warming.  Enrich / Extend activities are listed to help you meet the needs of all learners.

Guiding Questions

  • How does the reflectivity (albedo) of different substances affect the amount of energy they absorb?
  • How does melting of ice in the sea and on land affect Earth systems
  • How can feedback loops impact Earth’s systems?
  • How can changes in albedo and the amount of ice impact Earth’s climate and vice versa?

Objectives

  • Students will plan an experiment to:
    • Test the effect of albedo on the temperature of different substances.
    • Help them understand how the reflectivity of different types of planetary surfaces can have enormous impact on Earth’s systems.
  • Students will create models of sea ice and glaciers in two containers, testing how the melting of each affects water levels.
  • Students will form hypotheses about the possible connections between albedo, melting ice, and sea level and communicate their ideas orally and in writing.
  • Students will be able to explain the connections among albedo, meltingice, sea level, feedback loops, and climate change orally and in writing.

The lesson is aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) & Common Core State Standards, as well as California’s Environmental Principles and Concepts. We hope you and your students enjoy the simulation and other activities and we’d love to hear your feedback!

 

"Albedo, Melting Ice, and Feedback Loops" lesson plan
Student shadows on pavement
Iceberg

California Education and the Environment Initiative

California Education and the Environment Initiative is free, state-sponsored K-12 curriculum that teaches science and history-social science standards through an environmental lens.

Earth Revealed Video Series

Scroll down to the individual programs to view for free on demand!

#3 “Earth’s Interior” explains how we know what the interior of Earth is like.
#5 “The Birth of a Theory” recounts how the Plate Tectonics Theory was formed.
#6 “Plate Dynamics” explains the interaction between plates and covers the San Andreas Fault.

Earth Revealed video series