Teaching in the Exhibition

The Climate Change exhibition uses interactives, models, videos, and more to engage all learning styles. The following eight areas are labeled on the Map of the Exhibition. See also: Answers to the Guiding Questions.


1. Introduction

Overview: This area charts the dramatic rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) over the past 400 years and its link with industrial activity and population growth.

Exploration:
  • "400 Years of CO2" graph: Invite students to make connections between technology, energy use, world population, the size of the world economy, and the rise in Earth's atmospheric CO2 levels since the year 1600.

  • Coal basket, steam engine, light bulb, and computer: Students can explore these objects to infer how technological innovations have changed our way of life. Have students focus on the steam engine, which launched the Industrial Revolution.

Guiding Questions:
  • Why is atmospheric CO2 on the rise?
  • How are different kinds of machines powered?
  • How have different kinds of carbon-based technologies affected human societies?



2. Climate Change Today


Oil-when refined into gasoline and diesel fuel-powers nearly all of the world's cars and trucks.
© Tony Tremblay
(click to enlarge)
Overview: This area explains how the burning of fossil fuels to generate energy releases CO2 into the atmosphere, and that this is causing Earth's climate to warm.

Exploration:
  • "Greenhouse Effect" wall: Invite students to investigate how greenhouse gases keep our planet livable.

  • Model of a metric ton of coal: Students can explore the connection between energy use (electricity), the burning of coal, and CO2 emissions.

Guiding Questions:
  • How do greenhouse gases affect Earth's atmosphere?
  • What human activities are causing the atmosphere to warm?



3. Making a Difference

Overview: Conserving energy is essential, and there are many ways for individuals to go about it. This area describes changes that can make a difference—if many act.

Exploration:
  • "What Can You Do?" wall: Invite students to explore all the different ways in which individuals can save energy and consume less—at home, at school, and at work.

  • "Solutions" digital interactive: Students can envision the multiplier effect of an individual action when thousands or millions of people join in.

  • "The Built Environment" wall: Students can explore the energy-efficient components of a building or community.

  • "Everyday Actions" wall: Have students examine how energy conservation and efficiency can help reduce CO2 emissions. Help them understand that individual actions are only one part of the solution.

Guiding Questions:
  • What can you do to conserve energy and reduce CO2 in the atmosphere?
  • How could you and others work together to broaden the effect of your actions?



4. Changing Atmosphere

Overview: This area explains how scientists know that Earth's atmosphere is changing, and some of the expected effects.

Exploration:
  • "Weather vs. Climate" wall: Ask students to distinguish between weather and climate through photos and a Q&A.
  • Weather journals & thermometer: Students can explore the tools that scientists use to observe climate and weather.
  • "Air Temperatures Are Rising" graph & ice core sample: Students can examine the evidence for rising air temperatures and levels of CO2 emissions.
  • "Uneven Heating" hands-on interactive: Invite students to find out why Earth is warmer at the Equator than at the poles.
  • "How Climate Works: Atmosphere" globe: Students can choose animations about the role of clouds and storms.

Guiding Questions:
  • What's the difference between weather and climate?
  • What are some ways in which climate change affects weather?
  • What's the evidence that Earth's atmosphere is changing?
  • What are some of the consequences of a warming atmosphere?



5. Changing Ice


The shrinking Arctic ice cap is forcing some polar bears to forage for food near human settlements.
© Bryan & Cherry Alexander
(click to enlarge)
Overview: Ice is melting at the poles, and glaciers are shrinking. This area describes the present and possible future impact upon the world around us.

Exploration:
  • "Flooded City" model: Students can observe the effect of rising sea level on Manhattan.
  • Brain coral: Invite students to examine a marine fossil, found well above sea level, as evidence of past climate change.
  • "How Climate Works: Ice" globe: Students can choose animations about sea ice and snow cover across the seasons.
  • Polar bear diorama: Students can explore how life in the Arctic is being disrupted.
  • "Bouncing Back" hands-on interactive: Invite students to learn about the albedo effect.

Guiding Questions:
  • How will melting ice affect our world?
  • What role do seasonal changes in snow and ice cover play in Earth's climate?
  • Why is the Arctic so sensitive to climate change?



6. Changing Ocean

Overview: The ocean plays a vital role in climate by storing heat and carbon. This area explains the effects of higher CO2 levels and warming temperatures on marine systems.

Exploration:
  • "How Climate Works: Ocean" globe: Students can choose animations showing the ocean's role in the climate system.
  • Buoy & ocean glider: Students can examine the tools that climate scientists use to collect data in the ocean.
  • Sediment core sample: Have students consider what geological evidence of past climate suggests about future changes.
  • "Tiny Ocean Organisms Have a Big Impact" display: Students can explore how microorganisms affect the ocean's carbon uptake.

Guiding Questions:
  • How do scientists study ocean temperature and chemistry?
  • Why is the ocean so important to Earth's climate?
  • How might changing conditions affect marine ecosystems?



7. Changing Land

Overview: This area explores the effect of climate change on land. Droughts and floods may become more common, with consequences for ecosystems and human society.

Exploration:
  • "How Climate Works: Land" globe: Students can choose animations about how climatic variations affect land conditions.
  • "Ecosystems & Climate Change" dioramas: Students can investigate the many ways in which the warming climate may affect biodiversity.
  • Tree ring samples & hands-on interactive: Invite students to move a magnifier to explore the evidence of past climate changes recorded in tree rings.

Guiding Questions:
  • Why will both droughts and floods become more common?
  • What are some of the ways that climate change is affecting organisms?



8. A New Energy Future


Using panels like these to capture solar energy produces no greenhouse gases or pollution.
© Taggart Construction
(click to enlarge)
Overview: This area describes options for meeting the world's increasing demand for energy while reducing CO2 emissions.

Exploration:
  • Wall panels and objects about "clean" energy sources that could meet future needs: Students can explore different ways to generate electricity, which include solar, wind, water, geothermal, and nuclear power.
  • Theater: Student can watch this video to discover how experts are thinking about the issue of climate change.
  • Leave Your Message: Encourage students to comment on the issues and challenges of climate change.

Guiding Questions:
  • Why is "clean" electricity key to solving climate change?
  • What do you think governments like ours should do?

SEARCH SITE MAP FAQ COPYRIGHT INFO PRIVACY POLICY ROSE CENTER CONTACT US SIGN UP FOR AMNH ENOTES
Climate Change Online Educator's Guide