Friday, February 17, 2012: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Room 119-120 (VCC West Building)Understanding projections of future climate challenges students because they hear mixed messages from popular media, must interpret complex systems, and need to appreciate that projections have uncertainty. To prepare students to weigh new arguments and make informed decisions, instruction is needed that promotes coherent understanding of mechanisms and contributing factors. Curriculum materials that leverage everyday ideas, make global climate change personally relevant, and use visualizations to help students connect unobservable processes and variables (such as heat transfer and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere) to observable phenomena (such as albedo, the reflectivity of a surface) have the potential to improve understanding and prepare learners for lifelong exploration of environmental issues. This symposium will present a range of educational materials that rely on student exploration of computational models of climate change — highly simplified models for precollege students and a model based on current research for university students. Speakers will discuss research that documents how activities that feature interactive scientific visualizations affect student learning. This research illustrates the importance of incorporating visualizations into pedagogically sound units that guide students to develop scientific argumentation skills, deal with issues of uncertainty about the data and models, and connect abstract ideas to personally important decisions.
Marcia Linn, University of California
Robert Tinker, The Concord Consortium