Enabling students to understand and analyse contemporary issues in science and technology

Activities for Responding to global climate change

Here are activities to help with the teaching of this topic.

Climate change in the news
This is one of two introductory activities to start the study of climate change. Students collect and analyse topical news stories on any aspect from political arguments about international agreements to a hurricane, a flood, a drought or a dire warning on future climate.
Teacher notes and student sheets (2.1 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (41 KB)

Living with climate change
This is one of two introductory activities to start the study of climate change. Students research the impacts of climate change on one community in a developing country of their choice. This activity can bring out the human side of climate change and its impacts at the start of the topic.
Teacher notes and student sheets (2.1 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (35 KB)

Climate change science
This session is supported by a set of PowerPoint slides intended to develop students’ understanding of the greenhouse effect. Students watch the presentation, discuss questions and work from the textbook.
Teacher notes and student sheets (2.1 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (42 KB)
CliPowerpoint (1.1 MB)

The Earth’s energy budget
This activity builds up a more detailed picture of the Earth’s energy balance, using a presentation and questions available from the climateprediction.net web site.
Teacher notes and student sheets (1.3 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (24 KB)

Dynamic modelling
These activities allow students to learn more about the use of computer models and their limitations. Students use simple models on Excel spreadsheets to look at linear and exponential growth and the effects of positive and negative feedback. These modelling concepts are related to the complex systems of climate change.
Dynamic modelling
Teacher notes and student sheets (2.3 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (336 KB)
Dynamic modelling 2
Teacher notes and student sheets (2.2 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (119 KB)
Spreadsheet - Models1 (22 KB)
Spreadsheet - Models2 (23 KB)
Spreadsheet - Models3 (33 KB)
Spreadsheet - Models4 (120 KB)
Spreadsheet - Models5 (22 KB)
Spreadsheet - Models6 (45 KB)

A simple climate model
This activity is available from the climateprediction.net web site. Students are introduced to the use of one of the simplest possible climate models. They use the model in an Excel spreadsheet and can change variables and plot graphs to find the equilibrium temperature under different conditions.
Teacher notes and student sheets (1.3 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (25 KB)

climate prediction .net results so far
This activity introduces students to the results of a more complex model of the climate, one that is used to produce day-to-day weather forecasts as well as climate forecasts. It explains briefly how the model is tested in three stages and used to predict climate sensitivity. It is paper-based with data, explanations and questions. It is available from the climateprediction.net web site.
Teacher notes and student sheets (1.4 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (25 KB)

Greenhouse gas emissions forecasts
This activity introduces the idea of scenarios. It shows how models are used to predict the climate outcomes from a set of economic scenarios. It is available from the climateprediction.net web site.
Teacher notes and student sheets (1.4 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (25 KB)

Clues from the past
In this activity students watch a short power point presentation and then, also using the textbook, complete a summary of the different ways in which evidence about past climates is collected.
Teacher notes and student sheets (2.0 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (37 KB)
Clues from the past Powerpoint (2.0 MB)

Why is carbon dioxide so important?
It is widely accepted that an increase in carbon dioxide is responsible for the rising average global temperatures. This activity looks at some of the evidence behind this explanation and asks students to reflect on different types of evidence.
This activity is available from the climateprediction.net web site.
Teacher notes and student sheets (1.4 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (28 KB)

Feedback and forcing
This activity is based on a series of slides in a PowerPoint presentation. The aim is to develop understanding of the greenhouse effect and the carbon cycle. The presentation will help students appreciate the challenges involved in modelling a complex climate system.
Teacher notes and student sheets (1.4 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (42 KB)
Feedback and forcing Powerpoint (0.9 MB)

Case study: Why is the arctic warming so fast?
This activity is designed to help students prepare for the Unit 4 assessment as well as to learn more about topic 3.4. It uses articles and a scientific paper on the use of measurements and models to develop explanations for the rapid warming in the Arctic.
Teacher notes and student sheets (2.8 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (87 KB)

Climate change impacts
This is an activity in which students, working singly or in groups, find out about one of the main impacts of climate change and then give a short presentation on their findings. This activity sets the scene for subsequent sessions about technical and political responses to the challenge of climate change.
Teacher notes and student sheets (2.1 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (44 KB)

Problem based learning - The climate change challenge
In this problem based learning activity students will work in groups to understand and to assess the action being taken locally or regionally in response to the threat of climate change.
Teacher notes and student sheets (2.2 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (64 KB)

Political responses to climate change
This presentation introduces some of the background information needed by students before they can embark on either the activity called ‘International decision making’ or the activity called ‘A debate on the issues’.
Teacher notes and student sheets (1.4 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (40 KB)
Political responses climate change ppt (3.8 MB)

A debate on the issues
This activity involves watching a debate between Myles Allen (climate change physicist) and Bjorn Lomborg (author of ‘The Skeptical Environmentalist’). The debate took place in 2008 at a Swiss Climate Forum. Students watch the debate and analyse and compare the arguments used by the two presenters.
Teacher notes and student sheets (2.1 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (38 KB)

International decision making
Year by year, as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) moves from one Conference of the Parties (COP) to the next, the issues highlighted in the debate about climate change evolve. This activity is designed to be timeless by introducing
climate change as an international issue through a
study of media reports in on-line newspapers in
English.
Teacher notes and student sheets (2.1 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (49 KB)

Exam-style question: Emission scenarios
This question uses data from a set of scenarios to test understanding of climate change and modelling.
Teacher notes and student sheets (3.4 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (102 KB)