GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 27-7
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-5:30 PM


MEIXNER, Thomas, Department of Hydrology & Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, SOULE, Dax, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Queens College CUNY, 65-30 Kissena Blvd, Flushing, NY 11367, DARNER, Rebekka, Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61790; School of Biological Sciences, Normal, IL 61790 and O'REILLY, Catherine M., Dept. of Geography, Geology, and the Environment, Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61790

As they become more commonly available online, large environmental datasets provide new opportunities for instructors to teach quantitative reasoning and scientific concepts. However, curricular materials developed to help instructors use these resources need to be flexible and adaptable for a wide ranges of abilities, course types, and time limits. Project EDDIE (Environmental Data-Driven Inquiry and Exploration) modules are built with this flexibility in mind. Modules are scaffolded to progress from guided- to open-ended inquiry. As well as student handouts, modules include extensive supporting information for instructors, with the intention that they will be able to modify these as appropriate for their course, students, and learning goals. We have found that Project EDDIE modules can be effective in achieving the overall conceptual scientific and quantitative reasoning goals across a wide range of courses and approaches.

The EDDIE Climate Change module provides an example of the flexible approach of the EDDIE modules. This module uses global temperature and atmospheric CO2 datasets to explore current rates of change, and to compare those to rates that are calculated using Vostok Ice core data. Students are asked to reach their own conclusions regarding how modern changes compare with past change, and what this might imply about the role of human activity in current climate change. As with all modules, one key component is that students make their own decisions about how to use the data, in this case selecting the time frames that they want to use.

We demonstrate the flexibility of the EDDIE Climate Change module by illustrating how it has been modified in structure and approach by instructors. Variations of this module have been used across a range of ages, from middle school students to retired professionals. The module has been adapted for use in 4-hour laboratory sessions, 50-minute lecture periods, and for out-of-class assignments. Instructors have developed alternative approaches to fit their needs, such as providing students with cleaned datasets vs. having them access the data online, and providing hard copies of graphs to be used for simplified calculations vs. having the students graph the data themselves. The flexible and adaptable nature of EDDIE modules allows them to be widely used to improve quantitative reasoning and to engage participants in working with large authentic datasets on real-world problems.