Climate change and the water cycle: A new southwest regional climate hub curriculum unit for 6th-12th grade students

TitleClimate change and the water cycle: A new southwest regional climate hub curriculum unit for 6th-12th grade students
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsSteele C, Elias E, Bestelmeyer S, Haan-Amato SS, Deswood H, Rango A, Havstad K
Conference NameAmerican Geophysical Union Fall Meeting
Date Published12/2015
PublisherAGU
Conference LocationSan Francisco, CA
ARIS Log Number324045
Abstract

As climate change intensifies, increased temperatures and altered precipitation will make water, a limited resource in the arid southwestern United States, even scarcer in many locations. The USDA Southwest Regional Climate Hub (SWRCH) developed Climate Change and the Water Cycle, an engaging and scientifically rigorous education unit for 6th -12th grade students. The unit is aligned with Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards. Nine activities can be conducted over 10 instruction hours. Each activity can also stand alone.  In partnership with SWRCH, the Asombro Institute for Science Education developed the unit. Each activity was reviewed by an educator for educational practices and by a scientist for scientific accuracy. The unit was pilot tested with 524 students in 2014, and pre- and post-tests were administered. Ninety-one percent of students were able to name a greenhouse gas on the post-test, compared to only 48% on the pre-test. On the post-test, 86% of students identified the relationship between average global temperature and carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, compared to only 52% on the pre-test. A student commented: “I loved all of the activities! They are fun and help us understand about what goes on in the world.” Educators who participated in pilot testing said: “the entire curriculum is great, but I was particularly impressed with the progression of ideas and the variety of lessons,” and “students could see the relevance and importance of these real life issues.”