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ICP Website Curator: Robert B. Schmunk — NASA Official: Gavin A. Schmidt


Earth Climate Course: What Determines a Planet's Climate?

[Simple graphic showing relative sizes of Venus, Earth and Mars] This module is designed to connect cutting edge NASA research with the teaching and learning of core science and mathematics concepts and skills while addressing state and national education standards. Since an important goal of research is creating new knowledge, the process of science inquiry and the research tools used to do research play a major role in all the lessons. Presented with a science problem, students seek answers and consensus by experimenting with physical and computer models, collecting and analyzing their own measurements, and conducting inter-comparisons with real world data from satellites and ground-based observations. NASA missions and related Earth and space Science topics provide the real world problem context for student investigations. An important aim is for students to develop a scientific view that our environment as a system of human and natural processes that result in changes over various space and time scales. The authentic science experiences presented in this module are meant to develop life-long skills for thinking critically about a science problem and applying tools of science inquiry in new learning situations. This approach to learning and teaching considers the capacities students will need to develop in a workforce and society where science, technology, and public issues are increasingly connected.

The outline for this module's lessons is shown below in the "Topic" column of the table. In the next two columns are corresponding chapters in PDF format — the first, labeled "Teacher Notes", provides background and instructional guidelines, and the second includes class hand-outs for the "Student Activities". Resources in the "Data and Tools" column are used by students to conduct the analysis called for in the module investigations.

Software requirements: PDF documents require the free Acrobat Reader to be viewed. The Java applet in Topic 2 requires that your web browser be able to display Java (version 1.3 or better) applets. The XLS files in Topics 3 and 4 require Microsoft Excel to be viewed.

Topic Teacher Notes Student Activities Data and Tools
Introduction PDF (1.1 kB) PDF (280 kB)  
1. Temperature Variations and Habitability PDF (322 kB) PDF (541 kB)  
2. Modeling Hot and Cold Planets PDF (548 kB) PDF (1.0 kB) Java: Radiation Balance Model
3. Using Mathematical Models to Investigate Planetary Habitability PDF (225 kB) PDF (1.5 MB) XLS: Albedo Calculator
4. How Do Atmospheres Affect Planetary Atmospheres? PDF (524 kB) PDF (875 kB) XLS: Mini-GEEBITT Ver. B
Complete Module Text PDF (1.9 kB) PDF (3.4 kB)  

This curriculum module is a 2005 Approved NASA Earth Science Education Product.

This curriculum module was revised on 2005-09-12.