ICP lessons and modules are driven by fundamental questions and topics scientists deal with in climate and environmental research. By design, they are problem-based investigations for middle to high school in which students learn to use various research tools to construct scientific understandings. Education goals are to gain:
- Competitive workforce skills in science, technology, communication and critical thinking
- Experience dealing with real world, interdisciplinary problem solving
- Appreciation of how scientific knowledge develops and is applied in society
- Understanding of how humans and nature interact in the Earth system
- Awareness of regional and global social, economic and environmental relationships
- Skills and techniques for effectively communicating knowledge
- Relationships with world class institutions and researchers
Note: Some lesson and module tools require particular software.
- PDF documents require the free Acrobat Reader to be viewed.
- TBK toolbook files run only on Windows PCs and require installation of the Neuron plug-in.
- XLS spreadsheet files require Microsoft Excel.
Lessons and Modules
What Determines a Planet's Climate?
(2005 Approved NASA Earth Science Education Product)
Students will work through a series of hands-on learning activities to gain the scientific understanding and technical skills to address this question. Activities include: experimenting with physical models, making observations and simple mathematical modeling of the world.
The Carbon Question
In this module, the fundamental science question, "How much carbon is being stored in the terrestrial part of the earth?" is explored from many vantage points, including studies in local environmental settings and ecosystems and global biomes and measurements from ground based and satellite instruments.
- Introduction to Clouds
If the earth's climate is changing, what will happen to clouds? Will clouds warm or cool the planet? Explore storm clouds and study their effects on climate by sampling and graphing data from the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP).
- Effect of the Sun's Energy on the
Ocean and Atmosphere
How does Earth interact with the energy it receives from the sun? Is our planet in radiative balance? Calculate the earth's radiative budget using satellite data collected by the NASA Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE).
- The Role of the Atmosphere and Greenhouse
Effect in Determining the Surface Temperature of the Earth
(168 kB PDF)
Using an interactive model, investigate the relationship between radiative balance and earth's surface temperature. (Note: Uses planet module TBK file.) Read the instructions on the activity sheet before beginning the experiments.
The Volcano and the Climate Model (at AMNH website)
A team of GISS sceintists worked with staff from the American Museum of Natural History to create this resource for students to learn why volcanic eruptions influence Earth's climate and how they provide real world experiments to test the capability of computer models to simulate our climate.
- Introduction to Statistics
Basic statistics concepts explained: mean, median, mode, variance, standard deviation, correlation coefficient.
Urban Measurement of Aerosols and Asthma Project (UrbanMAAP)
Quantify the potential relationship between the alarming increase in the prevalence of asthma and changes in atmospheric composition and climate due to human activity.
Models and Simulations
Excel Models and Simulations
These spreadsheet-based models and simulations require the use of Microsoft Excel.
- Albedo Calculator
An experimental tool to explore the albedo of Earth's land surface features and clouds.
- Global Equilibrium Energy Balance Interactive Tinker Toy (GEEBITT)
A spreadsheet model that allows students to study the effects of climate variables on the earth. The GEEBITT paper describes activities that can be done using this model.
- Mini-GEEBITT Version A3
A simple climate model to be used to conduct experiments on factors that influence planetary temperature: luminosity of the Sun, albedo, and distance from the Sun.
- Mini-GEEBITT Version B3
A simple climate model to be used to conduct experiments on factors that influence planetary temperature: luminosity of the Sun, albedo, distance from the Sun and the absorption effect of a planet.s atmosphere. This GEEBITT includes the Greenhouse Factor.
- GEEBITT - Full Version
A simple climate model to conduct experiments on the radiative effects of a planet under various conditions: Black Body, Reflective Surface, Raleigh Scattering and Aerosols, Clouds and Stratospheric and Tropospheric Components. This stand alone version includes data tables in which the investigator may save data for analysis at a later time.
- Mini-GEEBITT Version A3 (xls)
- Energy Scenario Simulation
Develop future energy scenarios that alter the amount of energy produced by different sources and sectors and calculate the changes in carbon dioxide emissions for a particular scenario.
Toolbook (TBK) Models and Simulations
- Radiation Balance Model
An experimental tool to explore factors that influence the temperature of an object when it is exposed to an energy source.
- Physics Topics
Study vectors, projectile motion and the law of moments.
- Sunlight vs. Latitude Lab
Experiments on the effect of latitude on solar insolation and Earth's seasons.
- Astronomy Module
Examine the laws of planetary motion and the influence of gravity, developed by Kepler and Newton.
- Geostrophic Balance Lab
Explore the Coriolis effect and its influence on geostrophic flow.
- Meteorology: Cloud Formation Lab
Learn how the Ideal Gas Laws are applied to a study of cloud formation and study the relationships between air mass, temperature, pressure, and relative humidity.
- Planet Module
Experiments in building a habitable planet.
- Black Body Radiation Experiment
Study the concepts of black body radiation and wavelength as a function of temperature.