This unit is written to be used in the 9th grade Phy-chem course at a large public high school in New Haven. Wilbur Cross, the largest high school in New Haven, serves about 1,600 students. 75% of students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch and 88% are minorities. Most students are coming to Wilbur Cross from public middle schools in New Haven, where they have had an introduction to weather and weather systems, as well as earth science.
As an introductory high school science class, all 9th grade students in New Haven take the Phy-Chem course. In this course students begin the year by learning about weather and climate, including a focus on how the climate is changing and what evidence we have for these changes. Students then investigate the natural resources on Earth, how these resources cycle through the Earth system, and what impacts humans have on the availability of natural resources. Finally, the third and fourth quarter focus on waves and energy and how these technologies can be used to mitigate climate change. This unit is designed to be taught in the first quarter of the Phy-chem course as an introduction to the scientific principles that cause climate change. The state of New Haven has adopted the NGSS, so this unit is designed with these standards in mind.
Before this unit begins, students in Phy-chem will have learned about weather concepts, such as temperature, humidity, wind patterns, global currents, and pressure. Before beginning the unit, students will investigate evidence that the climate is changing by looking at pictures of locations in Greenland in the 1920s and 2015, analyzing graphs that show temperature changes over the last 200 years, and examining the frequency of extreme weather events.