Understanding Global Change: Tools for exploring Earth processes and biotic change through time

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Jessica Rebecca Bean1, Lisa D White1 and Minda Berbeco1,2, (1)University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, United States, (2)National Center for Science Education, Oakland, CA, United States
Teaching global change is one of the great pedagogical challenges of our day because real understanding entails integrating a variety of concepts from different scientific subject areas, including chemistry, physics, and biology, with a variety of causes and impacts in the past, present, and future. With the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards, which emphasize climate change and other human impacts on natural systems, there has never been a better time to provide instructional support to educators on these topics. In response to this clear need, the University of California Museum of Paleontology, in collaboration with the National Center for Science Education, developed a new web resource for teachers and students titled “Understanding Global Change” (UGC) that introduces the drivers and impacts of global change. This website clarifies the connections among deep time, modern Earth system processes, and anthropogenic influences, and provides K-16 instructors with a wide range of easy-to-use tools, strategies, and lesson plans for communicating these important concepts regarding global change and the basic Earth systems processes.

In summer 2014, the UGC website was field-tested during a workshop with 25 K-12 teachers and science educators. Feedback from participants helped the UGC team develop and identify pedagogically sound lesson plans and instructional tools on global change. These resources are accessible through UGC’s searchable database, are aligned with NGSS and Common Core, and are categorized by grade level, subject, and level of inquiry-based instruction (confirmation, structured, guided, open). Providing a range of content and tools at levels appropriate for teachers is essential because our initial needs assessment found that educators often feel that they lack the content knowledge and expertise to address complex, but relevant global change issues, such as ocean acidification and deforestation. Ongoing needs assessments and surveys of teacher confidence when teaching global change content will continue to drive UGC resource development as the site expands in the future.