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Hands-On Climate Change Activities

Iain Braithwaite, John F. Ross C.V.I.
Roberta Tevlin, retired

Climate change can feel very threatening and at the same time it can feel very abstract. Demonstrations that use simple materials can help students understand the concepts better, and they provide a change of pace. We have gathered a collection of nineteen demonstrations to help with the grade 10 Climate Change unit, both SNC2P and SNC2D.

You have probably seen some—but probably not all—of these demonstrations before. We hope that you will find the new ones useful. However, most grade 10 teachers without a physics background will not be as familiar with them. We hope that you will pass this resource on to these teachers to help them put more student-centered demos in their classes.

For each demonstration we have included a short video of the demonstration. The video makes it easier to understand the demo and it also allows you to show the video if you don’t have the time or the equipment to do it live.

Each demonstration has sample questions (and answers!) to help get the students talking and thinking. This way the demos are ‘minds-on’ as well as hands-on. Some of these questions follow the Predict Explain Observe format, some are multiple-choice Concept Questions and some have the students apply the demo to the larger world of climate change.

Most of these demos can be done by the teacher and some of them can be turned into student activities. To help you decide how to use them, the videos are marked with one to four ‘clocks’, which measure how long it would take you to do it as a hands-on activity.

🕥 One clock is an activity that is easy to set-up, easy to do in small groups, and takes little time. 
🕥🕥 Two clocks means it should be a student activity or a teacher demonstration.
🕥🕥🕥 Three clocks means that it should be a teacher demonstration or screened as a video. 
🕥🕥🕥🕥 This activity takes a long time, is hard to set up or has safety concerns. Show the video.

If you have a demonstration that is not in this collection, please let us know by emailing roberta@tevlin.ca and we will add it to the collection.

On behalf of the OAPT Climate Action Group, Iain Braithwaite, Michelle Lee, Robert Prior, Milica Rakic, Dale Simnett, and Roberta Tevlin, thanks!

We would like to thank the Perimeter Institute for their wonderful resource Evidence for Climate Change. This free resource is full of information and student-centered activities. Six of their activities are featured in our collection. The resource has many other useful suggestions and information, and we strongly recommend that you download the full resource. You should also sign up for the online teacher course that complements the resource. It will walk you through the materials and the science and provide a chance to connect with other teachers. Most of us have already done this course and found it to be very useful. You can sign up here.
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