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How will Climate Change
Affect the SF Bay Area?
Julie Nicholas (San Leandro High School), Rick Denny (Fremont Unified)
Generative Question/Problem
What are some
ways that global
climate change
might affect the SF
Bay Area, as well
as other areas? This
case was inspired as
a means to connect
students with the
Scientific Investigation
More specific questions will help to answer the
generative question:
• What is some evidence that global climate is changing?
• What are some of the mechanisms of climate change?
• How is a changed climate projected to affect the SF
Bay Area, and other parts of the world?
• What can we do to mitigate climate change?
• What can I do today to reduce my contributions to
global climate change?
the greenhouse
effect is critical
prior knowledge
to understand
climate change.
issue that many scientists and educators feel
is the most important challenge of our time.
CA Science Content Standards
Grades 9-12: Earth Science
4. Energy enters the Earth system primarily as
solar radiation and eventually escapes as heat.
As a basis for understanding this concept:
c. Students know the different atmospheric
gases that absorb the Earth’s thermal radiation
and the mechanism and significance of the
greenhouse effect.
Investigation and Experimentation
d. Formulate explanations by using logic and
m. Investigate a science-based societal issue
by researching the literature, analyzing data,
and communicating the findings.
k. Recognize the cumulative nature of
scientific evidence.
Learning Objectives
• Students will describe credible scientific
evidence of climate change.
• Students will explain causes of increased
greenhouse gas emissions.
• Students will identify expected effects of
climate change.
• Students will synthesize information on
climate change to create and communicate a
presentation, work or performance to the
• Students will evaluate peer presentations
against an assessment rubric.
21st Century Skills
• Information Literacy
• Collaboration
• Media Literacy
• Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
• Communication
• Initiative and self-direction
• Productivity and accountability
Five greenhouse gases,
including CO2 and methane,
contribute the most to climate
The carbon cycle
explains the main
sources of carbon,
as well as
carbon sinks.
Photos of Muir Glacier in Alaska, above, in 1941
and 2004, show dramatic changes. Likewise,
photos of Whitechuck Glacier, below, in 1973 and
2006, highlight glacier melt.
Key Lessons and Activities
• Using information from a NASA video clip, on
piecing together the puzzle of increasing world
temperatures, students will complete a graphic
• Students will look at global climate change data
characterized in temperature graphs, tree rings
(dendrochronology) and CO2 levels recorded by
the Mauna Loa station in Hawaii.
• Students will view a KQED Quest Video that
reports on environmental changes in the SF Bay
• Students will graph CO2 data from Mauna Loa
in Hawaii and compare with a constructed graph
of CO2 data from the South Pole. In addition
participation in an activity with simulated tree
cores will add another point of evidence to global
climate change.
• Students will perform an experiment that
investigates the different levels of carbon dioxide
in human breath and car exhaust.
• Students will analyze graphs from data and
activities to understand the change in global
climate and to relate that to present changes
and projected consequences of global climate
• Frontload academic and skill vocabulary.
• Students will make observations on changes
seen in four indicators of global climate change,
using NASA Climate Time Machine. In addition
students gather more information by reading
articles from the NSF climate change report.
• Students will demonstrate ability to construct
and interpret information from a graph. In
addition they will write a essay on a prompt
explaining the credible indicators and
consequences of global climate change. Finally
they will have varied group projects that show
how mitigation of global climate change could
Research-Based Instructional Strategies
• Students will write Cornell notes.
• Students will use graphic organizers for
• Students will use words in depth vocabulary
• Students will use precision partnering
techniques to deepen learning.
• Students will strengthen writing skills with
learning logs, quick writes and exit tickets.
Capstone Project/Investigation and
• Students will pick from an array of projects
that will show their content knowledge of global
climate change and the actions they can take to
mitigate the effects of global warming.
• Projects include: Participating in a political
action group, environmental action group,
presenting a skit or video they produce,
newscast skit, submitted an article to the school
newspaper, presenting a song/rap/poem or
designing a comic strip.
• Students will be rated by their peers, based on
a defined rubric.
Implementation Plan and Next Steps
• Customize experiments to better fit level of
students and address our essential question.
• Construct graphic organizers or scaffolded note
taking methods for video clips.
• Global Climate Change: NASA’s Eyes on the
• KQED Clue into Climate:
• US Climate Change Science Program:
• San Francisco, Bay Area and Sacramento Valley
- Sea Level Rise Map:
•National Center for Atmospheric Research
activity Trees: Recorders of Change.
• Lawrence Hall of Science GSS Climate Change:
• NSF Climate Change Report: