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Resources for Teachers

Here is a selection of high-quality free on-line resources helpful for teachers looking to review the basics of climate science, understand the historical development of the science, improve their climate science pedagogy, and prepare to counter doubt and denial about climate change.

The Climate Literacy & Energy Awareness Network (CLEAN) provides a catalog of existing online resources that have been reviewed and annotated for scientific accuracy and pedagogical potential. The catalog can be searched by grade level, resource type and other criteria. Included are:

  • learning activities, videos, and visualizations that relate to key climate and energy concepts
  • tips for teaching key climate and energy topics
  • interactive concept maps to help to integrate the fundamental concepts into an overarching scope and sequence for learners

Climate Literacy: Essential Principles of Climate Science provides a framework for understanding the climate system in general and climate change in general. Reviewed and endorsed in 2009 by top scientists with the U.S. Global Change Research Program, a collaboration of over a dozen federal agencies, and vetted by education and communication experts, “Climate Literacy” offers seven Essential Principles, which NCSE summarizes.

Energy Literacy: Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts for Energy Education, developed by the U.S. Global Change Research Program Partner Agencies and their educational partners,  “identifies seven Essential Principles and a set of Fundamental Concepts to support each principle. The guide does not seek to identify all areas of energy understanding, but rather to focus on those that are essential for all citizens K-Gray. It presents energy concepts that, if understood and applied, will help individuals and communities make informed energy decisions."

Earth: The Operators’ Manual is the official website for the 2011 PBS television program of the same name, featuring Penn State climate scientist Richard Alley. The website includes an annotated and illustrated script, with links to background information on both climate change and sustainable energy, interview transcripts, web-exclusive videos, resources for educators, behind-the-scenes image gallery, and more.

The Climate and Global Change section of the National Earth Science Teachers Association’s Windows to the Universe website includes hundreds of pages of content on climate and global change topics (at upper elementary, middle school, and high school levels in English and Spanish), including the science behind climate, paleoclimates, Earth’s polar regions, effects of climate change, and much more.

NASA’s Climate website provides high-quality information about climate science from America’s space agency. Winner of the 2011 Webby Award for Best Science Site, the site includes engaging interactive activities such as Eyes on the Earth 3D, which showcases NASA’s Earth-observing satellites that provide observations of the planet’s changing climate, and a series of quizzes on a variety of climate-related topics.

The Climate.gov website, operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, includes education resources, a library of presentations that can be downloaded, and access to climate data and services.

The Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) focuses on bringing motivational and inspiring multimedia climate change assemblies to high schools around the U.S. ACE’s assemblies are entertaining, engaging, and based on solid science — and recently they reached their one millionth student! The ACE website includes videos and blogs for students and resources and support for teachers.

“Climate Change and Anthropogenic Greenhouse Warming” is a useful selection of twenty key papers, published between 1824 and 1995, of original research on climate science, selected and accompanied by interpretive essays by James R. Fleming. It originally appeared in the National Science Digital Library’s Classic Articles in Context series.

Spencer Weart’s “The Discovery of Global Warming”, hosted at the American Institute of Physics’s Center for the History of Physics website, is a hypertext history of the science that led to our current understanding of — and high confidence in the research findings about — climate change and the role of humans in driving recent change. Included is a timeline of key milestones in understanding climate change since 1800.

The Climate Change Education.org website, operated by a organization of volunteers dedicated to education on climate change and global warming solutions since 1999, offers a large collection of links to a wide array of vetted teaching and learning resources on climate change from around the world.

Skeptical Science, maintained by Australian physicist John Cook, is a good source of information on climate change denial. Skeptical Science’s Debunking Handbook, by John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky freely available on-line, offers practical tips on the effective ways to reduce the influence of myths and misinformation, whether climate-related or not.

RealClimate describes itself as “a commentary site on climate science by working climate scientists for the interested public and journalists,” adding, “We aim to provide a quick response to developing stories and provide the context sometimes missing in mainstream commentary. The discussion here is restricted to scientific topics and will not get involved in any political or economic implications of the science.”

Scientist, author, and educator James Lawrence Powell has developed a series of animated graphs relating to various aspects of climate change, including isotopic evidence linking carbon dioxide increases to human activities. The graphs can be downloaded and links to the original data are provided.

The Climate Literacy Zoo Education Network seeks "to develop and evaluate a new approach to climate change education that connects zoo visitors to polar animals currently endangered by climate change, leveraging the associative and affective pathways known to dominate the decision-making of the general public." Featured is a free downloadable book, Climate Change Education: A Primer for Zoos and Aquariums.

Finally, NCSE's own Voices for Climate Change Education collects organizational statements in support of teaching about climate change.