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Author

National Center for Science Education

Grades

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

Subjects

Science, Social Studies, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Types

  • Lesson Plan
  • Video, 3 minutes, 5 seconds, CC, Subtitles
  • Scientific Papers or Reports
  • Article
  • Video, 3 minutes, 45 seconds, CC, Subtitles
  • Data
  • Interactive Media

Regional Focus

Global

Format

Jamboard, Google Sheets, Google Slides, PDF, YouTube Video

Scientific Consensus: A Tsunami of Evidence

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Synopsis
  • This lesson plan from the National Center for Science Education provides an overview of climate change and scientific credibility that can be used as a stand-alone lesson or an introduction to the NCSE climate change curriculum series. 
  • Students will discuss their current understanding of climate change and biodiversity loss in a non-judgemental format, evaluate an example of media reporting on a scientific paper, learn about common misconceptions and the scientific process, graph and analyze real data, and think critically about climate misinformation. 
  • The lesson uses five core principles to guide the lesson: it's real, it's us, it's bad, experts agree, and there's hope. 
Teaching Tips

Positives

  • The lesson meets students where they are in understanding climate change and helps them think critically about misinformation, with a concrete example.
  • The lesson hook about chocolate is a powerful example and should help students understand the need for independent data, analysis, and review.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The lesson suggests that students have a basic understanding of energy types (thermal, solar, chemical), the water cycle, carbon cycle, nitrogen cycle, and layers of the atmosphere.
  • The FLICC image included in the teacher prep section could be shared with students to help them look at all information with a more critical eye.
  • There is a 28-minute video linked in the lesson for teacher prep that explains the five core principles in more detail.
  • If all activities are completed, the lesson will take 4-6 class periods.

Differentiation

  • This lesson can be used as a mini-unit, or the chocolate example and five core principle sections could be used independently for various lessons or connections to other material.
  • There are notes in the lesson for middle school adjustments that can be made for younger students.
  • The Cranky Uncle game (listed under extension activities) might be a great bell ringer or exit ticket.
  • Students could apply their critical thinking skills after going through this lesson to evaluate recent reports or media coverage about climate change, investigating the sources cited and following them back to the original research.
  • Other resources to consider using for supporting materials include this video about humans and climate change, this video about misinformation on climate change, this video from the 1950s about our knowledge of global warming, and this interactive table and video about the solutions to climate change.
Scientist Notes
The resource presents scientific evidence, facts, and misconceptions on climate change. It will guide students to evaluate and develop their capacity in quantifying climate variables to inform context-specific climate actions and decision making. This resource is recommended for teaching.
Standards
  • Science and Engineering
    • ESS2: Earth’s Systems
      • 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.
      • HS-ESS2-4 Use a model to describe how variations in the flow of energy into and out of Earth’s systems result in changes in climate.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-5 Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • MS-LS2-3 Develop a model to describe the cycling of matter and flow of energy among living and nonliving parts of an ecosystem.
      • HS-LS2-5 Develop a model to illustrate the role of photosynthesis and cellular respiration in the cycling of carbon among the biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere.
  • English Language Arts
    • Reading (K-12)
      • R.6-8.5 Provide an accurate summary of various texts; determine the central idea(s) or theme(s) and analyze its development throughout each text.
    • Speaking and Listening (K-12)
      • SL.6-8.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.
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