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Authors

Bonnie Waltch, Susan Gray

Grades

6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

Subjects

Science, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Type

  • Videos, 13 minutes, 9 seconds, CC, Subtitles

Regional Focus

Global

Feedback Loops - Introduction

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Synopsis
  • This video introduces the concept of feedback loops, or irreversible chain reactions, and the role they play in the planet's warming. 
  • Students will learn why stopping fossil fuel emissions will not be enough to stop climate change and why the planet's natural feedback loops must be restored. 
Teaching Tips

Positives

  • This video provides an informative introduction to feedback loops that is easy to understand for many ages.
  • The video uses metaphors and visuals to support understanding.
  • Students will learn that there is still time to take action against climate change; however, if humans take no action the Earth will reach a tipping point after which it will be nearly impossible to reverse the damage to Earth's systems.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Feedback loops are a more advanced topic in climate science, so students should already have an understanding of climate change and its main causes and effects.
  • The concept of chain reactions, feedback loops, and tipping points can be abstract and difficult for students to grasp. Consider discussing these terms before viewing the video and providing some simple examples to aid understanding. 

Differentiation

  • After watching, teachers could ask students the following questions:
    • What would happen if everyone in the world stopped using fossil fuels tomorrow?
    • Would global warming stop right away if fossil fuels disappeared? Why or why not? 
  • Although this video ends on a hopeful note, it has a relatively urgent tone that can be upsetting for students. Teachers should plan to provide support and options for students to take action for the climate so they do not feel powerless.
  • After watching this introduction, dive deeper into this topic by watching this video about feedback loops and sea ice or this lab about feedback loops and albedo. 
Scientist Notes
There is increased warming as a result of human activities, and we are approaching a point of no return. The resource underscores the need to take urgent climate action to mitigate CO2 levels. This is ideal for classroom use.
Standards
  • Science and Engineering
    • ESS2: Earth’s Systems
      • MS-ESS2-2 Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth’s surface at varying time and spatial scales.
      • HS-ESS2-2 Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth’s surface can create feedbacks that cause changes to other Earth systems.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-4 Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems.
      • HS-ESS3-6 Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity.
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