In this work, we examine middle school students' understanding of the greenhouse effect and global warming. We designed and refined a technology-enhanced curriculum module called Global Warming: Virtual Earth. In the module activities, students conduct virtual experiments with a visualization of the greenhouse effect. They analyze data and draw conclusions about how individual variables effect changes in the Earth's temperature. They also carry out inquiry activities to make connections between scientific processes, the socio-scientific issues, and ideas presented in the media. Results show that participating in the unit increases students' understanding of the science. We discuss how students integrate their ideas about global climate change as a result of using virtual experiments that allow them to explore meaningful complexities of the climate system.
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Acknowledgments This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grants No. ESI-0334199 and ESI-0455877. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. The authors gratefully acknowledge comments and discussion with members of the Technology-Enhanced Learning in Science center.
- Greenhouse effect
- Middle school students
- Technology-enhanced instruction