Place-based and student-led climate change instruction in the science classroom

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


Climate change is a global problem affecting everyone living on Earth. In Florida specifically, intense hurricanes are becoming a familiar event. In response to this phenomenon, I designed hurricane lessons to help students understand the link between climate change and increased hurricane intensity. I used place-based and student-led lessons. During these lessons, 14 students attended in-person and 16 students attended online, which was an option for students during the Covid-19 pandemic. In the Hurricane Webquest, students learned about the structure of hurricanes, tracked Hurricane Irma and read about the link between rising sea-surface temperatures and hurricane intensity. For the Thermodynamics PhET Labs, students investigated the links between climate and heat, and energy transfer. In the Thermodynamics Mini-Project, students looked at how thermal energy can be converted into kinetic energy in hurricanes. Finally, in the Hurricane Building Codes Assignment, students investigated local buildings and how they met the Florida hurricane building codes. Both before and after the hurricane lessons, students participated in the Hurricane Likert Survey and took a Hurricane Knowledge Test. Some students also participated in final interview questions once the lessons were concluded. Students indicated in both pre- and post-surveys that they were aware of climate change. After the hurricane lessons, students reported a greater understanding of the relationship between climate change and hurricanes. After students completed the Hurricane Building Codes Assignment, they were better able to articulate their reasons for evacuating or staying during a hurricane. When in-person and online students were compared, their greatest difference was in-class participation. Students attending in-person participated in classroom discussion, and those who attended from home stayed silent.




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