Climate Change Grades 5-8 Your Global Warming Guide


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  • Author : Gentleman, Darcy

Students will learn about climate change through the hands-on experiments on green houses gases, weather and climate, measuring climate change, the heating and cooling of the earth and the push and pull of climate change. The activities help structure students conceptual understanding of climate change. Through a series of hands-on and thought experiments followed by questions build students’ analytical thinking skills. Therefore, whether or not students further pursue science, as later citizens, they will be able to reason through the factors that affect issues of central concern of society regarding climate change.

 This is accomplished through a series of hands-on and thorough experiments followed by questions to build students' analytical thinking skills.

Divided into these five parts:

1. Weather and Climate

  • What is Weather?
  • Climates of the World
  • Weather or Climate?
  • Weather Patterns Make Climates
  • Ask an Expert

2. Measuring Change

  • Measuring Change
  • Ideas of Change
  • Short Term Change and Long Term Change
  • Temperature Trends
  • Watering Changes

3. The Greenhouse Effect

  • Air Inventory
  • Can We Control Climate?
  • How Does a Greenhouse Work?
  • Clouds Over the Greenhouse
  • Greenhouses are Traps
  • Humidity

a) What is Humidity?

b) Measuring Humidity

  • Air in the Greenhouse
  • Carbon Dioxide and Greenhouses
  • A Natural Greenhouse


4. Heating and Cooling the Earth

  • The Color of Earth
  • Will the Earth Heat Evenly?
  • Water and Ice and Heat
  • Feedback
  • Moving Water in the Oceans
  • Changing the Current
  • Rising Seas and Shores
  • Icebergs and Sea Level
  • Glaciers and Sea Level


5. The Push and Pull of Climate Change

  • Relative Impact
  • Local Affects Global
  • Natural and Artificial
  • Sources and Sinks
  • Debating Pollution
  • An Inconvenient Truth Graphing
  • Are Clouds Good or Bad?
  • Cities and Climate

Weather and Climate (pages 14 – 22) gets students thinking about the temporal and spatial scale of climates in order to confront the concept of global changes.

Measuring Change (pages 23 – 35) builds students’ observational and data analysis skills that will aid in their extracting meaning from the subsequent experiments and concept-teaching questions. This section will be of use to any curricular content for which tracking change is necessary.

The Greenhouse Effect (pages 36 – 54) focuses on the dominant issue of present concern for climate change. While certainly not the only issue, the groundswell of attention garnered by global warming means that a generation of students will need to understand this concept that is already driving social change. Every effort was made to present the effect accurately without complicating its explanation. The intent is for students to “discover” the greenhouse effect as opposed to blindly applying dogmatic knowledge in token demonstrations. Myriad studies in science education have shown that an inquiry/discovery approach allows students to take ownership of their learned knowledge while building scientific skills. Once they have developed their own comprehension of how greenhouses work, the conceptualization of infrared radiation interacting with atmospheric molecules will be better retained. Note that a detailed explanation is beyond the scope of this book.

Heating and Cooling the Earth (pages 55 – 73) combines the first three parts and has students begin to apply their accrued knowledge. Much of these activities and thought experiments concern water and ice, as that is where the lion’s share of evidence for present climate change exists. Class discussions upon completing the activities can therefore be well augmented by current affairs.

The Push and Pull of Climate Change (pages 74 – 86) collates students’ abstract thinking skills to synthesize their fundamental understanding of climate change. The activities encourage debate and prediction within the context of global warming. Students will therefore be better able to weigh risks and propose solutions to myriad problems, both generally and specifically to climate change. It is hoped that in using this resource to augment your lessons, students will come away with the ability to problem solve and think critically rather than regurgitate countless facts. Climate change has occurred and continues to take place; today’s students need to be prepared to make the most of our future.

This book supports many of the fundamental concepts and learning outcomes from the curriculum for these provinces: Ontario, Grade 7, Science, Understanding Earth & Science Systems, Heat in the Environment.
96 pages, including an answer key.
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