STEM Education Resource Center: Professional Development
Global Climate Change Modules from PBS and NASA
Explore best practices for teaching global climate change (GCC) to middle- and high-school students with these free, self-paced modules for teachers.
Each module includes STEM resources that will increase your knowledge of climate change concepts and can be used directly with students. Dive in to the modules that interest you!
This professional development experience was funded by NASA's Global Climate Change Education initiative. This initiative is designed to improve the quality of the nation's STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education and enhance students' and teachers' literacy about global climate and Earth system change from elementary grades to lifelong learners.
Global Climate Change Modules
How is the Earth’s climate changing? Within the mainstream scientific community the fundamentals of global warming and climate change are no longer in question and increasing evidence shows that human activities play a significant part in contributing to this change. Examine evidence of climate change from different parts of the Earth’s system and consider what it means to live on a planet with a dynamically changing climate.
Human activity, including burning fossil fuels, deforestation, and other landscape changes, have increased the concentration of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Explore the relationship between increased concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere and the record of global temperature on long and short time scales by examining both instrumental data and proxy climate data from ice cores.
Climate change is local and global. Examine recent temperature data for local and regional areas and understand the significance of recent temperature records as evidence of a warming climate. Make climate change science more relevant to students through examining local and regional data.
The patterns of contemporary climate change we see are the result of natural factors or processes operating in or on Earth’s dynamic climate system as well as the impact of human activity. Examine Total Solar Irradiance data and evaluate whether contemporary global climate change can be explained by the variable energy output of our nearest star. Explore ways to introduce interactions of the dynamic climate system into your classroom.
Climate change is happening, but as global citizens we have the ability to slow the rate of change by modifying our energy use and consumptive habits. We can also adapt or adjust to a changing environment in various ways. How can we empower students to take action to reduce CO2 emissions? Explore the pedagogic importance of empowering students to take action to reduce CO2 emissions.
Scientists have identified quasi-periodic cycles of change in the amount and distribution of solar energy reaching Earth over thousands of years. These cyclic changes are responsible for the waxing and waning of the Ice Ages during the last three million years. Analyze the astronomical/orbital forces on the Earth's climate and examine data to evaluate the possible influence of natural climate cycles on the trajectory of warming temperatures we are experiencing today in Earth's climate.
The present and future impacts of global climate change on human populations are unevenly distributed across the planet. As a consequence of a warming climate, sea levels are rising at a rate of more than 3 millimeters (mm) a year. Learn how sea level rise will have increasingly serious consequences for human health and life quality.
To successfully adapt to a warming world, we need to engage all students, including underserved populations, in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education experiences enabling further study and creating excitement about STEM careers. Learn how to excite students about STEM careers and identify resources that can be used to introduce students to thinking about STEM careers, especially careers related to climate change science.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education will prepare students to step up to the challenges of global climate change and forge a new economic future for societies on our planet. Learn how to expose students to the excitement of engineering challenges and careers, in the context of climate change science explorations and green energy challenges.
In the Earth system, a change in one part of the system will lead to a change in another part through positive and negative feedbacks. Feedbacks render some parts of the Earth more sensitive to climate change than others. Examine the evidence for changes in ice cover at the Arctic and explore why climate changes at the poles are so important to the rest of the climate system.
- Introduction to Earth’s Dynamically Changing Climate
- Earth’s Warming Climate: Are We Responsible?
- Going Local with Global Warming
- The Climate Change Skeptic’s Argument: Natural Solar Cycles or Human Activity?
- Carbon "Kidprints"
- Earth's Orbit and Climate Change
- Coastal Consequences of Sea Level Rise
- Climate Change and STEM Career Preparation: Building a Diverse Workforce
- Connecting Global Climate Change with Engineering
- Impacts of a Warming Arctic
What is a Module?
Time: 3-5 hours
These professional development experiences will increase your knowledge of global climate change issues and provide classroom resources you can implement with students.
In each module you will:
- Look at resources and content through the 5E—Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, & Evaluate—design we provide.
- Read the materials and information.
- Take notes and gather resources.
Need a basic introduction to global climate changes issues and terminology? Check out 20 Questions & Answers About Climate Change
Ready for More?
Explore the basics of 21st century teaching and learning as you analyze the difference between climate and weather and how our actions and nature are affecting the environment in this online, graduate-level course.