Jo Ellen Roseman
Project 2061, AAAS's science literacy initiative, has received two grants to develop classroom materials to help middle-grade students understand important concepts related to climate and climate change. Funded by NOAA and NASA, the grants will provide teachers, curriculum developers, and other educators with free, online access to teaching resources focused on a variety of earth, ocean, and atmospheric phenomena.
"Given the implications of global climate change, understanding the basics of climate science is a high priority for all students," said Jo Ellen Roseman, director of Project 2061. "These grants will enable us to use data from NASA and NOAA earth observations to engage students in interesting real-world phenomena and to design activities to help them make sense of the phenomena in terms of the underlying science principles," added Roseman, the principal investigator on the grants.
Over three years, a team comprised of Project 2061 staff and experts in climate science, middle-school science teaching, and other areas will develop, test and promote the materials. The materials will include fundamental climate concepts aligned with science education standards, classroom activities, and assessment tools; when they're ready, they will be placed in an online, searchable database on the Project 2061 website. Teachers can then use the materials to enrich existing lesson plans or integrate them with new curriculum materials. It should take about two years before the first materials are available to teachers.
"The decision to focus on materials for middle grades enables us to respond to the well-documented problems that many students encounter in the middle-school years," the team wrote in their grant proposals. The team cited declines in U.S. students' science performance from elementary to middle school and how this lack of understanding leaves middle-school students unprepared for high school and more likely to lose interest in science.
The team will use data collected by NASA and NOAA on global observations of oceans, atmosphere, land surface, and the biosphere. The team will also address common misconceptions that many students have about key ideas related to climate and climate change.
"We think that these kinds of activities—missing from most textbooks—can make a big difference in both motivating students and in helping them understand important science ideas," Roseman said.
The two-year $150,000 grant from NASA and the three-year $750,000 grant from NOAA begin 1 September and 1 October, respectively.