Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known known
It is an exciting time to be studying Earth Science subjects at school! With the increasing importance of environmental issues, the value of subjects such as Geography, Geology, and Biology is perhaps more apparent than ever before. For teachers, there is a real opportunity to inspire the next generation of scientists by guiding them through the fascinating world of climate change research. But we know that sourcing and developing engaging and innovative teaching material isn’t always easy…
Where do I even begin looking for scientific data?
How do I know if the material is robust?
How can I weave this into my curriculum?
Developing teaching material
At Climatica, we work together with national curriculum panels in the UK to ensure that school level curriculum content is relevant, up to date, and above all, engaging! We recognise the difficulties in accessing scientific material (journal paywalls, closed-access datasets) and the need for case studies and exercises to enhance your lessons. We have developed an inventory of earth science websites, open-access data sources, and interactive exercises that can be used to enrich your teaching material. These are in accord with current curriculums, and address a range of age groups. All websites are listed by topic below.
Developing links with scientists
In many university departments, there are scientists who are very willing (and indeed encouraged) to develop their links with schools, and to open up their research to much wider audiences. After all, it is in everyone’s interests to promote the fantastic science that goes on at university level and to engage with younger audiences who may be insipred to pursue scientific careers. A number of university departments have a dedicated schools outreach officer – whether this is an academic or a member of administrative staff – who fosters links with local schools and community groups. Connecting with these groups can open up a wealth of opportunities for science outreach. Some examples include: schools talks, open days, and meetings. Lecturers, post-docs, technicians, and research students can deliver outreach materials to your class at school, and some universities may invite school students to visit their department. Some university departments may invite local schools onto their contact list, but in other cases you may wish to establish these links with them directly by contacting the relevant discipline (Geology, Geography, Biology etc.). Just because your school has not been contacted does not mean that these links cannot be developed! At Climatica, we encourage you to contact your local university to discuss the options for developing outreach in your school.
Contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you need further assistance with outreach or if there are other resources that you would like to see in the Climatica toolkit.
Mind the Gap: from research stations to public platforms – An OCR sponsored lecture presented by Kathryn Adamson and Tim Lane at the Geographical Association Annual Conference 2014. It discusses the current state of climate science knowledge, provides an overview of the scientific research process, and explores some of the difficulties in communicating science to public audiences such as schools groups. An example of some useful resources for teachers are also provided.
Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network (CLEAN) – Teaching materials and ideas for many aspects of climate change topics, from the basic principles of climate change to the human aspect of climate change and consequences. The site contains some excellent ideas for teaching the key concepts as well as links to useful resources.
The Met Office – A clearly structured site that contains a range of case studies for use in primary and secondary education. There is a separate are of resources for teachers with lesson plans and fact sheets. Aligned with the UK National Curriculum, but the material can be adapted to suit other education systems.
United Nations Environment Programme – A selection of useful multimedia resources such as videos, podcasts, and images on environment and climate change topics. Suitable for primary and secondary education levels.
World Bank Climate Change Knowledge Portal – his is a hub of information, data and reports about climate change around the world. Climate and climate-related data can be interrogated, and future predictions from General Circulation Models analysed. This provides a rare opportunity for activities in which past, present, and future climate can be compared.
UK Environmental Change Network – The ECN data centre has a time series viewer which works as a data exploration tool. This allows you to interrogate climate data from a number of climate stations throughout the UK from 1991 to present. They also have a number of schools tutorials aimed at aiding learning about weather and climate change.
NOAA Climate.gov – An excellent, wide ranging, and detailed site provided by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. See also their excellent page on data and maps of climate variables . It includes a very effective“Global Climate Dashboard” which provides data and graphs to understand interactions between different parts of the climate system. A must-see!
NOAA Sea Level Trends – A site providing interactive information about sea level trends across the world, with detailed information about each field site. Allows students to study the sea level across wide areas.
School Science – A range of ideas and lesson plans for teaching science in schools. The site is very clearly arranged by age group and contains range of resources from fact sheets to quiz cards.
The Association for Science Education – A wide-ranging website with a host of resources for teaching science. In particular, we liked their lesson plans for class projects to promote the application of science – there is a climate change, wind power, and Antarctica option.
National Science Teachers Association – A range of resources including suggested book, links to journal articles, as well as more general articles on the practical aspects of teaching climate science. They have an excellent range of interactive resources for teachers – this part of the website (entitled Science Objects) requires an account login, but this is free to set up.
Geology and Earth Science organisations
British Geological Survey – A series of downloads available free of charge. In particular, see their Educational Downloads section. There are some excellent cut-out-and-keep 3D models of volcanoes and glaciers. Many of these items also refer to sites of geographical/geological significance and could be tailored into useful case studies.
European Geosciences Union – A range of information on resources and Earth and climate science projects being undertaken at the EGU. There are some excellent lesson plans and ideas at Teacher’s Corner, and a host of exciting press releases at Planet Press – the EGU’s custom made bitesize press releases for kids.
United States Geological Survey – A great range of resources including videos, datasets, and interactive games. Designed for all levels from primary education to university undergraduate courses. Aligned with the US curriculum, but many items will be applicable elsewhere. Many of their resources contain structured lesson plans that could be adapted to suit different class requirements.
Discovering Antarctica – A wide-ranging website aimed at schools groups, developed by the British Antarctic Survey, the RGS-IBG, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Resources are clearly displayed by category (pdf downloads, images, videos etc). There are a number of excellent interactive features. See also their sister website Discovering the Arctic
National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) – A wealth of information on all things polar. Their information pages are thorough and very clearly written. They also provide links to a number of datasets that are available for download. Their Google Earth site offers KMZ files which can be downloaded and used with Google Earth to explore the cryosphere.
UN Stop Disasters Game – A fully interactive game allowing the player to develop strategies to mitigate against, and deal with the impacts of, natural disaster scenarios including floods, hurricanes, and tsunamis. Rather like the Sims or Theme Park. An excellent interactive resource for high school level (and beyond – believe us!).
The World Factbook – Detailed profiles, facts and figures, of every country on Earth!
World Bank Climate Change Knowledge Portal– This is a hub of information, data and reports about climate change around the world. Climate and climate-related data can be interrogated, and future predictions from General Circulation Models analysed. This provides a rare opportunity for activities in which past, present, and future climate can be compared.