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Climate Variability & Change

The leading geoscientists 200 years ago were confident that Earth’s climate could not dramatically change in less than a 1,000-year cycle. Today's geoscientists tell a different story. Today we are in a new era, the Anthropocene Epoch, scientists say. This epoch is characterized by changes in global environmental conditions resulting from interactions between humans and the planet. Education and public policy must immediately address the causes and impact of this global climate change. NASA research and mission resources provide key data to document, study, and educate youth through adults about the indicators, consequences, and challenges of Earth's rapidly changing climate. Summary data from NASA satellites document dramatic changes in sea ice mass, carbon dioxide, sea level, global temperature, and the size of the ozone hole. How these changes will progress, their impact on human life, and actions we humans need to take are the science focus of this problem-based learning (PBL) effort we propose. The Center for Educational Technologies (CET) at Wheeling Jesuit University in Wheeling, WV, proposes to improve the K-12 teaching about climate change by creating a new online professional development course for pre/in-service teachers. The course will promote PBL both as a teaching strategy and as a tool to update, enhance, and expand our existing online PBL modules called Exploring the Environment® (ETE). The improvements will incorporate enhanced capabilities to employ NASA tools and remote sensing data to studying global climate change. Course participants will be engaged in the development and testing of the new PBL modules as they learn the content and technology processes of climate change science. The ETE modules addressing global climate change will be freely available to all learners on the web. The online teacher professional development course will give teachers guided exposure to climate literacy science, PBL pedagogy, and collaborative, experiential learning in effective application of new resources, instructional methods, and assessment processes. The CET Exploring Global Climate Change team will build on four areas of strength to optimize this funding opportunity. First, by choosing relevant and already popular ETE modules, we can recruit from a large body of teachers who are already interested in this topic and PBL approach. More than a decade after they were created the ETE environmental science modules remain extremely popular, averaging 6 million web hits and 270,000 visitors monthly in the 2008-2009 academic year. Second, in 2005 the CET received funding from the National Science Foundation to conduct a design-based implementation and evaluation of the Exploring the Environment PBL modules. We will apply the findings and recommendations from that report to enhance existing ETE modules and develop a new one. Third, we have put together a team at the CET with a complementary range of skills, talents, and experience well suited for this project with its focus on improving teacher knowledge about effective teaching strategies for global climate change. Fourth, we will not reinvent the rocket, but will utilize existing resources produced by NASA and affiliated projects involved in the study of global change - especially those offering data sharing and visualization/analysis tools and services to support teacher professional development.

Project PI: Dr. Laurie F. Ruberg/WHEELING JESUIT UNIVERSITY, INC.

Email: lruberg@cet.edu

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Started: Sep 27, 2010

Last Activity: Jan 04, 2011

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