Connecting Global Climate Change with Engineering

Overview

Big Idea

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. Engineering is not always included in grades 6-12 science curricula, but this module introduces an approach to expose students to the excitement of engineering challenges and careers, in the context of climate change science explorations and green energy challenges.

Summary

Technological thinking is a critical skill in the 21st century workforce. K-12 engineering education can improve student interest, learning, and achievement in science and math. Engineering education can also increase student interest in pursuing engineering as a career. This module explores the importance of engineering solutions to the management of climate change by brainstorming ways to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and store it in a form that does not promote global warming. The module also provides resources for students to learn about engineering careers related to climate change.

Standards

This module is aligned to the following national learning and curriculum standards:

Objectives

In this module, you will:

  • Compare the design process used in engineering projects with the scientific process.
  • Explore elements of the engineering design process through global climate change.
  • Review resources to introduce students to thinking about an engineering career.

Background Information

Engineers have jobs that invent, design, and build things that matter, so it is no wonder that many engineers are working in careers that are helping us to adapt to and mitigate a changing climate. Climate scientists have provided the evidence that global warming is taking place and is primarily the result of anthropogenic (human) economic activities that put CO2 into the atmosphere. Reducing the amount of CO2 emissions is critical to healthy ecosystems and a healthy planet. At least some of the reduction in CO2 emissions can come from saving energy by reducing our carbon footprint. Other reductions will require new technological solutions to energy conservation and use.

Most people do not realize that carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for an average of 200-300 years. This means that the climate warming that we have set in motion will not stop, even if we could stop CO2 emissions immediately, for a thousand years or more. But what if we could remove the CO2 in the atmosphere? The National Academy of Engineering identifies carbon sequestration as a "Grand Challenge" of the 21st century (2011). Learn about the carbon cycle and how carbon moves between the different parts of the planet—air, water, land and living things, and use the engineering design process to brainstorm how different parts of the carbon cycle can be enlisted as a long-term storage facility for CO2 removed from the atmosphere.

Keeping Notes

Set up a journal to take notes as you participate in this experience. Your journal can be an online tool or offline notebook – whichever works for you and your learning style.

NASA and PBS

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

Online Professional Development

PBS Teacherline

PBS TeacherLine, the premier provider of online professional development services for PreK-12 educators, has the goal of making professional development accessible, affordable and engaging for teachers. Our hope is that our courses can help inspire and guide STEM learning at every age and in every discipline.

Integrate science and mathematics learning with technology and the engineering design process to investigate solutions to real-world problems with our STEM courses.

GO »