Using Models to Make Predictions

5 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT use models to explore how human activity can change temperatures over time.

Big Idea

Can changes in human activity result in a cooler planet Earth?

The Need for the Lesson

How can scientists predict future climate change? Students and adults alike are skeptical about climate change. They often hear conflicting reports about our planet's future climate. Learning more about how scientist build and use models to make predictions will help students develop the understanding they need to make informed decisions as adults.

Investigation Preparation & Summary

5 minutes

In this lesson students will use simulations to explore the interactions of the Earth's surface and atmosphere. By suing models students begin to understand the behavior of systems. (MS-ESS3-5 Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.)

The High-Adventure Science - Activity 5 Using Models to Make Predictions presents to students a short written explanation along with an interactive simulation for students to examine and analyze. Boxes are provided for students answers. As the facilitator of this activity, I can run a report at any time to view student responses for all students, one student, all questions or one question. 

As students explore variables via simulations they are asked questions designed to mentor them as they reflect on what the visual images mean. (SP1 Asking Questions and Defining Problems)

Students participate in the development of models by will manipulating variables. Student learning scaffolds with models representing systems and the interactions withing the systems. (SP2 Developing and Using Models)

Students will be changing variables to use models to make sense of the behavior of systems. (SP3 Planning and Carrying Out Investigations)

Students are actively engage in analyzing and interpreting data as each section of this lesson presents students with a graph. Students are asked questions designed to guide them through interpretation of the simulations. (SP4 Analyzing and Interpreting Data)

Students are asked to explain the behavior of systems by observing the interactions of variables. (SP6 Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions)

Questions encourage students to support their explanation using evidence from the simulations. (SP7 Engaging in Argument from Evidence)

Students communicate their evaluations of the visual representation by answering questions throughout the online activity using spaces provided. (SP8 Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information)

There are two methods to enroll your students in this activity. Enrollment is required to record student responses. One method is to enroll students yourself. Using this method, you enter student names and create their user name / password. I complete this process for one class. For all the other classes, I had the students self-enroll.

This lesson uses the High-Adventure Science activity - What is the future of Earth's climate? developed by Concord Consortium.

"Using Models to Make Predictions" High-Adventure Science. Concord Consortium, 2015. Web. 23 May 2015.

Students in Action

45 minutes

Students in Action

I begin this lesson by asking students - How do you think teachers and parents determine whether or not you will be successful next year in school? If you are successful this year, then you should be prepared and will experience success next year.

So if we have a good understanding of the past, then we can use that understanding to predict the future? Yes, sometimes. Other things might happen to change the future.

If all other variables remain the same then can we say the past is a good indication of the future? Can you share an example of how we predict the future from our past experiences? Yes, in Indiana we know that the summer will be hot and humid because summers are always hot and humid in Indiana.

In this module you will take a closer look at models created and used by scientists for predicting future climate change.

Screen Shot of the Increasing Complexity of Climate Models

If you need to clarify your understanding it is perfectly acceptable for you to confer with the scientists at your table group. You may also ask me any clarifying questions you have about the lesson. 

The website provides suggested answers to each question. I use these notes as I circulate around the room as students work. I like to work with my students one-to-one or small groups. The High-Adventure Science format also allows me to run a report at any time. The reports can be generated for all students or one student, all questions or a single question.

In the resources section you will find a sample report generated at the end of each section. My students select the print option and select PDF as their printer. The PDF responses are then shared with me via Google Drive.

In each of the simulations, I find keys questions that I can use to get a good sense of student understand. In this video, I share my go to questions.


Connecting the Learning

5 minutes

I simply ask students to reflect upon their contribution to the increased levels of COin the atmosphere? 

What can you personally do to reduce your footprint?

We do not have to answer that question today - keep it in the back of your mind. Ask yourself if a choice you are making will contribute to an increase or decrease in our global temperature.