Chemical Reactions on Slowing Down Climate Change (ID 19732)

The WISE project proves to be an inspiring online solution to motivating students to think, collaborate, predict, experiment, analyze, and synthesize thoughts in science.  I see using this platform for my online classes to take my students further in their thinking.

Initially, I found the authoring tool to be a little overwhelming like all new things but soon I got the hang of editing.  Below are a list of edits and the though process behind them.

1. Step 1.2: This is a survey that has two questions. Question 1 asks a yes/no question on humans having a role in climate change and question 2 asks Explain your answer.  I changed question 2 to “If Yes, explain two  ways that humans have affected climate change.  If No, give two reasons why humans have not played a role in climate change”. Thought Process: Using SKI theory, it us much better to to ask students questions with little more focus to get them thinking about certain ideas, in this case the intention is to find out exactly how students think humans impact climate change, simply saying explain your answer doesn’t really provide enough scaffolding to develop the direction of thought as the teacher visions.

2.Step 1.3: This page launches straight into the greenhouse gas effect that explains how the atmosphere keeps our land temperature warm.  I think there is an assumption here that students already know what a greenhouse is and how it works so a video on greenhouses themselves was added first.  Thought Process: To scaffold the connection between a greenhouse and the greenhouse effect of gases in the atmosphere, I added a video explaining greenhouses first, and ask students to watch the second video on greenhouse gas effect after. 

3. The rest of the WISE project is laid out well asking insightful questions. However, the project discusses a number of different topics like greenhouse effect, the role played by CO2, and hydrocarbons, stoichiometry, limiting reactants etc.  I would break up this WISE project into different sections throughout the course, coming back to it as an ongoing assignment as more of the background knowledge is discussed.  Thought Process: It is important to first get students comfortable with basic knowledge first regarding the atmosphere, gases, reactions, stoichiometry, and limiting reactants first before connecting these ideas to climate change.  Hence it is not fair to discuss all of these topics and apply them to climate change at once. 

Possible Lesson Plan in sequence that may take several classes.  It would be important to address any misconceptions students might have about the atmosphere and its gases during the explanation phases.

  1. Explanation of the atmosphere in general and the make up of its gases.
  2. Explanation of terms like radiation and heat energy and their connection with earth’s temperature.
  3. First exposure to the WISE project connecting the concept of a greenhouse to greenhouse effect of the atmosphere.
  4. Explanation of chemical reactions in general along with the concept of stoichiometry and limiting reactants.
  5. Continuing the WISE project further to complete the discussion on how chemical reactions are impacting climate change.



  1. The point you raise regarding the importance of being specific when asking students to explain an answer is important. Simply asking a student to explain can lead to a misinterpretation between the specific focus of an explanation the teacher is expecting and the type of explanation a student provides. Conversely, I wonder sometimes if my students don’t explain their answer at all when I simply say “explain your choice” because they aren’t quite sure how to go about doing so. Your suggestion, however, provides students with a more specific way to go about explaining. Over time, as students experience a wider variety of ways to explain their thinking and responses, it may be possible to reduce the specificity and allow students to structure their own responses more independently.

    1. I absolutely agree Stephanie! Just like any other skill we want students to become experts in, being able to answer open ended questions with depth and thought would be no different. Such a skill would definitely require scaffolding as you have suggested.

      Thanks for sharing,

  2. Vibhu,

    You too have made your thinking visible! Thank you for sharing with us your TPCK thought processes in red text. The pre and post WISE activities are sound ways to integrate the technology and meet your goals for the lesson. Furtak, in the paper, “The problem with answers: An exploration of guided scientific inquiry teaching,” discusses guiding students. How might you utilize Furtak’s strategies to begin to “address the misconceptions” you mention?

    Thank you for any insights and making your thinking visible,

    1. Hi Samia!
      Furtak (2006) presents a good argument via analysis of three different teachers on their approach to guiding students through scientific inquiry. It was interesting to think about the problems teachers often run into when they try to not give away the answers, then having to justify their reasons for withholding answers from students, who in their mind often deserve answers of the teacher when asked. Hence, a mixture of strategies like being honest with students about withholding answers, and giving subtle hints here and there would probably be the best way to guide students during scientific inquiry while at the same time addressing any misconceptions with casual and direct feedback.

      Thanks for sharing,

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