1. There are six climate change topics ("beats") to support the current high school curriculum. Students in the science classes complete a climate change project.
  2. Each teacher in the high school English or journalism class assigns one of the climate change topics to ScienceBEAT "reporters."
  3. Each "reporter" produces three informational texts ("news stories") by applying strategies from lessons and activities in six ScienceBEAT modules (listed below).
  4. Finally, students in the school's earth science class are assigned to read and critically review the climate stories that are posted by reporters.


1. What IS the greenhouse effect?
2. What IS climate change?
3. What ARE the predictions?
4. What risks and consequences are possible?
5. What are the risks to our health?
6. What are some solutions?

Expected Outcomes of this educational initiative:
We predict that a more interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to climate change education, which includes interactivity with data, interviews of experts, and the simulation of writing “news” about different risks, outcomes, and solutions for climate change will significantly increase student: (1) Awareness,  (2) Understanding,  (3) Accurate facts, and (4) Informed Writing about climate change.

The six pilot modules proposed for development - and detailed below - include: 1. Interpreting and explaining complex information about climate change, 2. What is climate change? 3. What are the climate predictions? 4. What are the risks and consequences of climate change?  5. What are the risks to our health?  6. What are possible solutions for climate change?

Module 1.  Interpreting and explaining complex information about climate change
            Objective: Students will learn strategies to interpret and write three different types of explanatory text for
            science and health topics such as climate change
(Rowan, 1985, 1999). Module 1 introduces students to research-
            based evidence and examples from science journalism and educational psychology
(Mayer, 1985) that address how
            digital users seek, select, share, and learn from media
(Tremayne & Dunwoody, 2001). The challenge is competing
            with an overwhelming amount of online information to inform the public, especially when younger users are not
            engaging with important topics because they can’t understand it or can’t apply the information to their own lives.
            Module 1, which will be utilized in each of the five subsequent modules, guides students in how to structure clear
            explanatory text about climate change for general audiences and recognize the four key components of:
            personalization, interactivity, coherence of media (text, data graphs, video, etc.) with minimal “kick-outs” (or
            elements that terminate user engagement and understanding).

Module 2.  What is climate change?
Objective: Students will learn the basic factors that govern human and natural influences on global climate.
Module 2 will explain that climate is the long term average of weather and will outline how human activities have modified past climate and may influence future climate.  The focus will be the rise in global mean surface temperature (GMST) from pre-industrial to the present (Canty, Mascioli, Smarte, & Salawitch, 2013). Using a series of graphic elements, students will analyze the unmistakable human fingerprint on GMST over time.  This module will also quantify the effects of solar activity, oceanic processes, and major volcanoes on climate and introduce the conundrum affecting the accuracy of climate predictions. This includes the uncertainty of aerosols on the rate of warming. Students will write informational texts that can these uncertainties and processes to a general audience.

Module 3.  What are the climate predictions?
Objective: Students will investigate how scientists make projections of future climate and the uncertainties inherent in these predictions (Mascioli, Canty, & Salawitch, 2012). This module will begin by defining the positive and negative feedback mechanisms, which enhance or diminish the influence of greenhouse gases on climate.  The module will establish the importance of proper quantification of climate feedback for reliable projections of future global warming. Building off of Module 2: we will show the uncertainty of future warming is mainly due to the cantilevering between the strength of radiative forcing of climate by tropospheric aerosols and climate feedback, both of which are not well known.  Students in both science and writing classes review critical evaluations of the climate projections within Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2013).   Students in English and journalism will read and write informational text that addresses an important axiom of science: predicting the future is much harder than understanding the past.

Module 4.  What are the risks and consequences of climate change?
Objective: Students will learn how climate change impacts many aspects of the earth system from a local to global scale. Module 4 outlines the human impact of climate change from the perspectives of sea-level rise, loss of habitats, ocean acidification, and the increasing likelihood of extreme weather events (IPCC, 2013). Module 4 will emphasize the apparent transformation in the Earth’s climate system: the expansion of the tropics, the poleward shift of the mid-latitude weather systems that are leading to rapid warming, particularly in the Arctic region. By the end of module 4, students will recognize the risks and consequences of climate change, identify possible responses to the urgent need to slow the rate of warming, and produce informational text that accurately explains this science.

 Module 5.  How could climate change affect you?
Objective: Students will learn how climate change is impacting the health of individuals at a local and national
level. Module 5 expands on extreme events such as heat waves, cold waves, and excessive precipitation, as well as
            how plant and animal life cycle events are influenced by changes in climate. Students will examine how these
            events are deviating from the long-term trends in Maryland and the Continental US. Students will learn how to
            articulate why the increased frequency/severity of extreme events and the alteration in plant and animal habitats
            are affecting the health of Marylanders in the past decade.  Module 5 focuses on 3 examples of chronic and
            infectious diseases that correspond to the extreme events and changes including: (1) Extreme summer heat and
            increased risks of heart attack,  (2) Increased precipitation and risks of bacterial infections, and (3) Changes in plant
            and animal habitats, higher pollen associated with increasing greenhouse gases and, and increased risks for asthma.
            Students will compose informational texts that explain the vulnerability and susceptibility.   

Module 6.  What are possible solutions for climate change?

Objective: Students review the economics and complex governance issues that drive global climate change and the importance of personal choices for transportation, diet, and entrepreneurship. The economics of climate change will be addressed by outlining the relative costs of energy production by solar, wind, hydro, nuclear, and fossil fuels plus the costs of generating energy by each method. Global governance issues will be examined by focusing on the impacts of population growth and the necessity of the Developed World to assist economic growth in the Developing World while reducing the dependency on fossil fuels, which have been historically over used in the Developed World.  The module refers to websites that invite students to calculate the possible effects of their personal carbon footprints. Students will discuss specific actions to reduce carbon footprints and write explanations for why cooperation between governments could reduce the rate of warming. Students will produce informational texts that explain how personal choices contribute to possible solutions.

Student 'reporters" in high school and journalism classes are assigned three climate change "beats" with students in earth science classes.  Reporters produce three stories with explanatory media.

Writing Informational Text With Data 
Writing Informational Text With Media