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Climate Change Module (Project EDDIE): Instructor Implementation

Author(s): Emilie Wiesner

Ithaca College

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Summary:
This details an implementation of the climate change module, where students explore how climate is using data. Produced by Project EDDIE.

Licensed under CC Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International according to these terms

Version 1.0 - published on 06 May 2022 doi:10.25334/7FK1-0S77 - cite this

Adapted from: Climate Change Module (Project EDDIE) v 1.0

Description

In this resource I share an implementation/modification of the Project EDDIE module on climate change. I implemented this module as part of a general education course called "Quantifying Sustainability" that satisfies the natural science and quantitative literacy requirements. The class enrolls students from across campus. Many, but not all, enrolled students are interested in sustainability issues; and students prior knowledge and comfort with mathematical and scientific reasoning varies widely.

My modifications include modifications to the Project EDDIE slides, minor adjustments to the module activities, and the addition of some homework assignments and an extension activity.

Notes

Background and lead-up to module:

I used this module as part of a general education course that with natural science and quantitative literacy designations. I saw this module as supporting those designations by helping them to examine some of the evidence for a scientific claim (human-caused climate change) that they all excepted,  to work through how data can be used as part of scientific inquiry, and to interpret quantitative information and use it to formulate arguments.

This was the only substantial data analysis we did in the course, and my focus was not on students developing new technical skills.

Lead-up to the module:

Climate change is a major theme of the course. As part of the course, students had already investigated basic climate models to understand the key role of the greenhouse effect in creating a global temperature hospitable to human life.

Module Materials:

  • Class slides: These are the slides that I used throughout the module, adapted from the Project Eddie slides. Notable changes:
    • The “fundamental questions” were based on the Project Eddie materials but didn’t appear in the slides. I used these questions to motivate the narrative of the module.
    • I wanted to have students engage with the messiness of data. The original module does this (I think) by having students download and reformat data from public sources. I thought this was too technical and time-consuming for my class. So instead, I focused on the issues of formulating variables and gather data. I first had them brainstorm ideas for measuring global temperature. They talked in small groups and then shared out. After this discussion, I shared information from Hansen and Leberdeff article on the standard approach for computing global temperature. Ideally, I would have had the class contrast this with the data collection for the Mao Loa carbon data and the Vostok ice core data; because the module was taking longer than expected, I just mentioned this myself.
    • Slides on the IPCC report. This is related to the extension activity. In particular, I highlighted the process by which the committee evaluated and described the evidence presented in the report, as another opportunity to illuminate the scientific process.
  • Module, Part A: This combines the Parts A and B of the original module. I did some minor rewriting of questions, including changing them to accommodate giving students the needed data as an EXCEL file.
  • Module, Part B: This is an adaptation of the original module’s Part C. For this part of the activity, I gave students the data with graphs already created.
  • Dataset: This includes all of the data that the students needed for the module.
  • Homework Assignment 0: A warm-up assignment. Students viewed two videos describing how the greenhouse effect works at the molecular level and then wrote a short reflection. Students shared some of their take-aways to start the next class.
  • Homework Assignment 1: This followed the introductory class lecture and discussion on the climate module.The first question asks students to engage more with global temperature data, a topic we explored in class. The second question asks students to learn more about one of the non-carbon causes in global temperature variation that was presented in the class lecture. The second question also prepares students for the pattern they see in the Vostok ice core data.
  • Homework Assignment 2: The first question is a basic check on students’ ability to make sense of a linear model for data. The second question asks students to summarize the results from the module (a check on their completion and understanding of the activities). The third question asks students to use the module results to critique a politician’s claim.
  • Extension: We completed this module shortly after the IPCC report on vulnerabilities and adaptation came out. I had students examine some of the graphics from the report as a way to reconnect the scientific results from the module with the human impacts.

Implementing the module:

  • Before starting the module, students had already studied qualitative models for global temperature that incorporated the greenhouse effect; and completed Homework 0. We discussed Homework 0 as a launch for the module.
  • Day 1: Lecture and discussion on class slides 1-10. I introduced basic regression ideas.
  • Students completed Homework Assignment 1 for homework.
  • Day 2: I worked through 1st question on Part A with the class, to illustrate basic regression ideas and to show how to use EXCEL. Students work (in pairs) on the remainder of Part A for the rest of the period.
  • Day 3: Students continued working on Part A. Progress on this was highly variable, with some students basically done at the beginning of this class period and some students who hadn’t yet successfully downloaded the data. I used most of the period to give more targeted help to struggling students. As students completed Part A, I gave them Part B to work on. (I included the graphs on the data for Part B so that students could get through this more quickly and focus on interpreting the data.) We did a debrief on Part A at the end of this period.
  • Day 4: Debrief of Part B. Not all students had completed Part B, but enough had to move forward. We finished the class meeting by completing the extension. (This was also the last class day before spring break, so I didn’t want to start a new topic. The extension seemed like a good fit for multiple reasons.) Students completed Homework 2 after this class meeting.

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