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What Have Scientists Discovered About The Relationship Between Global Temperature and Greenhouse Gases?

Catherine Fraser Riehle ( (ready to use)

Megan Sapp Nelson (

Subject Areas
Information Science, Science

Grade Levels
9, 10, 11, 12

Unit Keywords
information literacy, global warming, climate change, greenhouse gases, research, environmental science

Rationale of the Unit
This unit exposes students to the scientific research process by providing hands on experience in finding and interpreting credible information and scientific data. Using traditional research methods as well as laboratory experiments, students will explore, engage in the research process, make informed claims, and participate in discussion about the causes, effects, and impacts of global climate change.

  INVESTIGATE Go to Topgo to top
Background and Resources
BACKGROUND -- brief overview
Students will investigate the causes and effects of global climate change. By comparing and interpreting scientific data from credible studies and participating in experiments, they will draw informed conclusions based on exploration and discovery.

READINGS -- texts, slides, audio/video
Provide for or allow students class time in a computer lab or at the library/media center to find sources that provide credible overviews on related topics, such as global warming and greenhouse gas emissions. Encyclopedia articles on these topics would be useful. An overview of bias and scholarly versus popular information would be helpful here.

WEB SITES -- sites for exploration and interaction
The Climate of 2008 (US and Global Climate Perspectives - NOAA monthly, weekly, and special reports and data

Greenhouse Gases, Climate Change, and Energy (National Energy Information Center)

Global Warming: Frequently Asked Questions (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Climatic Data Center)

Science and Technology Sources on the Internet: Global Warming and Climate Change Science

If time allows, encourage students to use library databases to find articles on global climate change, including those that share diverse perspectives and viewpoints on the topic.

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Activities and Open-ended problems
Graphic activity from ARM:
Students will use real scientific data to graph greenhouse gas emissions over a period of time.
Additional option: Ask students to create tables and graphs in Excel using data from this activity and the NOAA website to document changes in levels of greenhouses as well, as well as average global temperatures, or temperatures in a given region.

Franklin Institute lab experiment comparing amounts of Carbon Dioxide in four different sources of gases: of gases.

Have students study NCDC graphs illustrating climate change over the last 2,000 years. Ask them to summarize their interpretations of the data in a report, incorporating additional resources (from the Background section) in their work to support their claims.
NCDC data available here:

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Dialogues, Discussions, and Presentations
In small groups, discuss the causes and effects of global climate change? What did you discover: do greenhouse gases contribute? How and why?

Consider creating a class blog or wiki in which students can post and share with the class their thoughts as they participate in this investigation as well related questions and sources found.

What are some differing opinions you found while doing research on global warming? What do YOU think? What can YOU personally do in your daily lives to help prevent global climate change?

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Assessment, Related Questions, and Story of the Unit
Students will hand in graphs and interpretative papers evaluating scientific data.
If using the blog or wiki, you can require a certain number of posts or comments, and assess participation as well.
Are the students' graphs clear and accurate? Did they understand the data presented in the graphs, and were they able to draw conclusions?

Credits & Acknowledgements
ARM Teachers' Lounge Resources for Teachers: Lesson Plan on "Amount of Greenhouse Gases in the Global Atmosphere"

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