Introduction

  -using this resource

Global warming

  -the facts

  -case study

  -hot map

  -CO calculator

  -pledge guest book

Activities

  -lesson activities

  -data analysis

  -data logging

  -quiz

Resources

  -links page

 

 


                                                                                                                    

This website is essentially a collection of resources for use by a secondary school science teacher, teaching about global warming and the greenhouse effect.

When encouraging children to think about conserving energy, here are some typical reasons for conserving energy:

1.     Fossil fuel is a non-renewable source of energy.  There is a finite amount of fuel left.

2.     Burning fossil fuels can cause pollution, in particular, acid rain has been blamed largely on increased use of fossil fuels.

3.     Using less energy is financially beneficial.


However, many of these reasons have little influence on adults' behaviour and even less on teenagers'.

We have therefore chosen the plight of the polar bears on the Hudson Bay as a case study on the greenhouse effect. This may be used as a ‘hook’ to gain pupils' interest.  The polar bear is a huge and powerful beast, yet still conjures up a cute teddy bear image.  The idea that the bears on the Hudson Bay are starving to death because we have left a light on, or feel the need to drive to the shops, is a powerful idea.  The idea that they can best be saved by switching off lights is perhaps even more fascinating. The polar bear case study could be read to pupils in a classroom and used as an introduction to the concepts of global warming or as a stimulus to a discussion about how best to help them.  Be prepared for teenagers to suggest the best way forward is to send food for the bears!

 

Of course we don’t know that the bears' problems have anything to do with human use of fossil fuels.  Climate change is a complex thing influenced by many factors.  We cannot control the variables of world climate change as we can with a classroom experiment. A good scientist will always say "We cannot be certain about the causes of global warming," but many scientists will take off their ‘scientist hat’ from time to time and put on an ‘environmental campaigner hat’ and say "We must do something now before it is too late."

 

Teaching the ‘scientific method’ is very difficult.  Children often get the impression from teachers that science is all about facts and certainties. The answer to the question is either right or wrong.  A topic like this is useful to get across the idea that science is a discipline. It is based on testing ideas, and being honest about what we know and what we do not know.  The page ‘the facts’ tries to outline what we know and what we don’t know about global warming in language that is as simple as possible.  There is also a Power Point presentation that accompanies this page for those who use data projectors in the classroom.

 

Children can use the ‘hot map’ as a resource to study other environmental warning signs.map-full.gif (32931 bytes) It is suggested that a class is divided into groups and set the task of researching different continents to give a presentation leading to a classroom discussion.

 

 

Co2_plate_surface.gif (32749 bytes)The world wide web is an excellent source of data of all types. Pupils can use the data analysis section to find useful data on global warming. If pupils write a report, the teacher should stress the importance of students stating what is known and what is supposition.  Generally what is happening is known.  Why this is happening can be suggested but is not certain.

 

Other students might prefer doing classroom experiments relating to global warming. Two examples can be found on the data logger page.  The first is more suitable as a demonstration perhaps.  The results are given on the page and are unambiguous.  The second example gives data that we cannot be certain about.  The design of the experiment may need adapting.  We leave it here as a stimulus for experimental design at quite a high level.

 

There are 2 quizzes in these pages.  One is testing prior knowledge of energy.  It covers ideas such as conduction, convection and radiation and insulation.  The kWhr as a unit of energy is recalled.

This could be used to refresh these ideas.  They may be needed in a proper discussion of conserving energy.  The second quiz is essentially comprehension exercise. Can pupils read a website and interpret what is written?  This lower level task may be used as differentiated material for those that might struggle with the higher level tasks of analysing data from the web.

 

It is hoped that students might want to get involved in a mini campaign to conserve energy.  A survey of the school's energy use might be a good starting point.  Use our CO2 calculator page to find out how much CO2 is produced by different activities.  The amount of CO2 produced is calculated in kg using the calculator.  It is however very difficult to visualise 1kg of CO2. In fact, most students will think of gases as being "weightless."  We have therefore introduced the idea of using balloons to demonstrate how much gas is produced.

Students trying to conserve energy may find the exercise futile because it needs large numbers of people to change their behaviour.  Why not try an e-mail activity?  Pupils are encouraged to write e-mail to friends encouraging them to conserve energy.  They could include a link to pages on this website such as our CO2 calculator or to other resources on the web.

 

The idea would be to receive a pledge to reduce energy use.  They could also be encouraged to forward the e-mail, but do stress the importance of e-mail etiquette.

It might be nice to produce a display of pledges received perhaps using a map of the world to show how far ones messages can get.  There is a pledge guest book present on this site. 
We hope to receive pledges of energy conservation on the guest book rather than comments on the content of these pages.

 

Finally, we have included a small list of useful links.

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