Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Important Advance in Climate Science Teaching

Tom Harris

Executive Director  of the International Climate Science Coalition Tom Harris has issued this press release:



Teaching students how science works in the real world and how to come to their own evidence-based conclusions is more important than telling them who is right in controversial fields such as climate change 

Ottawa, Canada, June 24, 2013:  "As the ‘official science’ of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) falls into disrepute, educators face an increasingly difficult decision when teaching climate science in middle and high schools," said Tom Harris, executive director of the Ottawa-based International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC).
"Should they act as if the science of climate change were somehow ‘settled’, as asserted by activists, and so create lesson plans based solely on IPCC material approved by school boards and provincial and state governments? Or should they also expose students to the politically incorrect but important perspectives of leading experts who conclude that climate change is mostly due to natural variability?"

ICSC Chief Science Advisor Professor Bob Carter, of James Cook University in Australia explains:
"There is now a third option, one that allows teachers to remain true to their profession, while also avoiding conflict with those to whom they report. Using ICSC lesson plans, educators can help students understand how science really works in a complex and rapidly evolving field, allowing them to discover for themselves that, at the frontier, science is a body of debate, not a body of established facts."
"The ICSC lesson plan guides young people to see critical thinking in action, driving the controversy in scientifically healthy ways, as competing hypotheses are proposed, criticized, and defended, according to the principles of the scientific method," said Professor Carter. "Throughout the lessons, teachers will guide students to think critically, to ask difficult questions, and seek answers to those questions. Students will learn to think, explore, and research."

Tom Harris gives some background: "ICSC’s lesson plans are being prepared in collaboration with top American education researchers following the Virginia Department of Education Standards of Learning that "the teaching puts the emphasis on the student seeking answers for themselves and helps them become creative problem solvers."

ICSC’s first climate science lesson plan is now complete and ready for use by middle school and high school science teachers at: http://tinyurl.com/lkm3h3a . Feedback from educators, students, administrators, scientists, and parents is most welcome. Teachers are invited to contact ICSC if they would like to be put on the distribution list for the rest of the lesson plans in the series as they are completed.

Educators and climate scientists have reviewed ICSC’s teaching strategy and our first lesson plan.

Here are samples of their comments:

Alex Harris, teacher—Science Department, Fellowes High School, Pembroke, Ontario, Canada:
"Students are introduced to an evolving body of scholarly research that seeks to broaden their understanding of debate amongst experts, the role of empirical research in achieving scientific consensus, and healthy skepticism; all are invaluable components of the process of scientific inquiry. Students are asked to question and reflect upon their personal beliefs and evidence used in establishing those beliefs. The materials used in the lesson are designed to stimulate the students' own thought processes and foster an appreciation for the process of scientific inquiry. This lesson is easy to implement and would be appropriate for learners in middle school through junior high school. Educators, exercise caution - this activity is sure to generate a lot of questions from curious minds!"

Lee C. Gerhard, PhD, Senior Scientist Emeritus, University of Kansas, past director and state geologist, Kansas Geological Survey, U.S.A.:
Encouraging students to challenge science-based "beliefs" by studying the actual debates among the experts is an excellent way to approach critical pathway thinking. Helping students develop analytical skills can be extremely helpful to them in their future endeavors, and to be educated voters. We live in a highly schooled but poorly educated society, where beliefs outweigh data. This lesson plan will help address that problem." 

Tad Murty, PhD, Professor, University of Ottawa, Previously Senior Research Scientist for Fisheries and Oceans Canada and former director of Australia's National Tidal Facility and professor of earth sciences, Flinders University, Adelaide, Ottawa, Canada:
Any course that challenges the students to think critically and use their own observational power to make deductions is extremely important because it provides opportunities for their mental development. With climate change being among the contemporary topics of global interest, this course is very timely.”

Don J. Easterbrook, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Geology, Western Washington University, Bellingham, Washington, U.S.A.:
“The new ICSC lesson plan for middle and high schools is an excellent approach to teach students how to acquire data on their own and use it to come to their own conclusions.  It thus teaches them not only the facts about certain topics but shows them a methodology that can be used for other topics.” 

Ross Hays, Meteorologist, NASA Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility, Palestine, Texas, U.S.A.:
"This looks like a great program that will let the students use their minds and make decisions of what seems to be the most logical theory on climate change as the planet continues to cycle between ice ages and warm periods with man’s written history minute compared to these time lines of climatology."

Brian Pratt, PhD, Professor of Geology (Sedimentology and Paleontology), University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
"It is apparent to all educators, be it in music or science or literature, that once the student has been provided with background and given guidance, students learn the most by exploring a subject for themselves. This way, students are able to discover the essence of a subject and its relationship to others, and by doing so learn how to ask questions that will lead to insight and advances. This kind of approach, challenging as it is, helps induce intellectual rigour, and enables students to understand what scholarship is all about.”

1 comment:

  1. So now we debate whether burning Hydrogen in Oxygen produces water, Neh! H20 just like how 1+1 makes more than TWO


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