Monday, 12 January 2009
Developing climate change modules for middle and high schools on the Pacific Ocean-southern California climate connection
Hall 5 (Phoenix Convention Center)
The NSF-funded Earth System Science Education Alliance (ESSEA) strives to promote earth system science (ESS) through grants and educational resources directed at institutions serving pre-service and K-12 teachers. Selected institutions offer online ESS courses featuring modules centered on such things as corals, Hurricane Katrina, climate change, and the shrinking ice sheets. California State University, Los Angeles, Departments of Geological Sciences and Geography and Urban Analysis offer a traditional cross listed undergraduate pre-service teacher course, PSCI 183 – Earth Science for Elementary Teachers, now Natural Science 183. This course is well suited for the ESSEA format. Administratively, a course modification has been submitted to accommodate the online delivery of instructional materials. We have proceeded with the development of modules for our course centered on distinguishing between natural variability (e.g. Pacific Decadal Oscillation, El Niño) in climate and the mostly human induced climate change in the southern California area. We provide a unique dataset for use in the classroom illustrating trends and changes in southern California weather and climate over the last 100 years. Students examine southern California temperature and rainfall records over the last 100 years to see how patterns in Pacific sea surface temperatures influence west coast weather and climate. Additionally, work is also underway on a module centered on the analysis of changing glaciers and Arctic ice attrition. These modules have been presented to teachers at the annual meeting of the Satellites and Education Conference, Los Angeles, California and will be presented at the Gold Coast Science Teachers Association in Oxnard, California. Preliminary reviews of the modules are supportive.