Related Research Areas
Climate Variability & Change

Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) proposes a GCCE Funding Category D, Goal 2 project, Carbon Connections, a sequence of free, internet-based modules to enhance high school students’ understanding of global climate change. The three modules will follow carbon in past, present, and future contexts, with each module requiring about five or six lessons. Carbon Connections will use innovations in multimedia design, created by the project partner Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB). To engage students, the interactive modules will enable students to manipulate data in a controlled web environment. The digital media will include visualizations and manipulations of data, simulations, animations, interactive experiences, and video. Each module will integrate key data sets and models from NASA scientists and missions. The modules will center on carbon cycling in earth systems, and follow carbon in past, present, and future contexts. This gives students an important overview of germane issues, plus reiterates the role of NASA in studying global climate change. The modules will also use three framing concepts to help students understand interactions in complex systems, such as Earth’s climate: Forcings, Uncertainty and Risk, and Models and Scale. In each of the three modules, these framing concepts will be subtle yet pervasive, and extend more generally to decisions that students-citizens will make regarding issues of science and society. Students will then better appreciate NASA’s important efforts in this critical area. The modules will be based on principles of how people learn, and be designed to dovetail with grades 9-12 courses in life and earth sciences, such as current BSCS programs. Given the multidisciplinary nature of climate science, the modules will also align closely with courses in physical sciences, or non-science courses in social sciences, economics, or geography. BSCS has a vast network of educational partners across the nation, particularly those using our high school programs. By linking the modules to current BSCS high school programs, along with a very active, national promotional campaign by BSCS and OPB, we estimate that Carbon Connections has the potential to impact well over 100,000 students. Moreover, the design process uses techniques to ensure that all students, particularly those groups under-represented in science, will improve their interest and understandings of climate science. The development process includes a rigorous field test of the three online modules with a range of culturally and ethnically diverse students and teachers. The field test will gather formative data from over 20 teachers and 2,000 students. Test and survey items will measure student knowledge of scientific concepts related to carbon and climate change, attitudes toward the role of NASA in monitoring earth systems, careers in STEM fields, and opinions regarding climate change. We will also solicit student ideas for how to improve the modules. Teacher responses from the field test will be centered on ways to enhance usability of the modules, as well as feedback regarding the online teacher support materials. Publishing such data will be helpful regarding future educational efforts in this venue. Using select regions for the field test, along with a strictly webbased product, significantly reduces the carbon footprint of the project. Sustainability of Carbon Connections will be funded by BSCS, and ensure that the final product, hosted by BSCS web resources, is maintained and updated beyond the project. BSCS is committed to this. BSCS and OPB will draw upon the network of educational partners across the nation, particularly those using our high school programs, to ensure widespread dissemination, and to use the modules in a variety of courses. Combined with focused collaborations in central Florida, the modules will help cultivate interest in NASA careers, as well as allied professions in STEM fields.


BSCS Center for Research & Evaluation Biological Sciences Curriculum Study 5415 Mark Dabling Blvd. Colorado Springs, CO 80918-3842

Phone: (719)531-5550



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Started: Sep 27, 2010

Last Activity: Jan 04, 2011


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