The Earth is warming, oceans are acidifying, the climate is disrupted, and human activities are responsible. So each of us needs to take the responsibility to act in ways that help to stop the deterioration of the only home we have. For those of us who teach, one of these ways is to incorporate into our courses the concepts of climate science and ways to mitigate the changes, in order to provide students guidance for their future. This is not a trivial task and, even for those who are very much on board, it is daunting to contemplate adding more material to already crowded courses. But climate science concepts themselves come to our rescue, because they are already included in our high school and undergraduate biology, chemistry, geology, and physics curricula. Our task is to connect the concepts we already teach to their climate science context.

Over the past several years, one of the Wisconsin Initiative for Science Literacy (WISL) projects has been to put together hands-on activities that incorporate traditional classroom concepts within the context of climate science. We presented these in several “Climate Science Concepts Fit Your Classroom” workshops for teachers of high school and undergraduate college science (emphasis on chemistry) courses. Participants left with experience actually doing the activities and electronic copies of the workshop materials that included suggested worksheets for students and background notes for instructors.

We feel these workshops accomplished their goals and will continue to offer them as opportunities arise, but they can reach only a relatively small number of the high school and college teachers for whom the ideas and materials are intended. Therefore, we have developed this online Climate Science Activities Workbook, to make them readily available for teachers who wish to use them as well as for anyone else interested in climate science.

Each of the Workbook Activities is made up of two parts: a suggested student Worksheet and Instructor/Presenter Notes. The Worksheet has brief background information, instructions for carrying out the Activity(ies), and questions designed to guide analysis of the results obtained. The Notes provide a more extensive background (which could be helpful for teaching assistants), descriptions of the results expected from the Activity(ies), possible responses to the Worksheet questions (including explicit solutions to those requiring calculations), and material that could enhance classroom discussions of the climate science connections. Although the Activities are not entirely independent of one another, they can be done in just about any order or you can choose only those that fit best with your course. The Activities are cross-referenced as necessary.

It is likely that you will want to edit the suggested Worksheets to best fit the structure and pedagogy of your classroom, laboratory, or recitation session. Consider them as templates for the content of materials you prepare for your students in a format familiar to them, perhaps with added local context and information from the Notes. To make such editing, reformatting, cutting, and pasting as easy as possible, the Activities are available as Word files. To obtain the Word files you wish, please fill out and submit this brief form. This will also help us track what is happening to our Workbook. We encourage you to get in touch if you have an activity or idea for an activity that might add to the Workbook. As you will see in the Table of Contents, it is still under construction with Activities Available and Activities in Progress, so you have to check periodically to see what has been added. We want the Workbook to be alive and active and encourage you to participate.

Thank you for visiting. Please browse a bit through the Activities to see which ones will fit your classroom.


It’s a pleasure to thank the WISL graduate student interns, Levi Hogan, Katherine Parrish, Mackinsey Smith, and Cecilia Vollbrecht; Niles West High School chemistry teacher Michael Boll; and WISL postdoctoral fellow Christina Marvin, for their excellent assistance with comments, suggestions, graphics, photos, experiments, and references that enhance the Workbook.

This Workbook owes its online existence to the design and web expertise of our WISL Senior Outreach Specialist, Cayce Osborne, for whose diligence, patience, and mentorship we are immensely grateful.

Dr. Jerry A. Bell

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