La Cumbre Junior High teacher Tiare Dodson and UCSB’s Michele Johnson have co-authored and published in the September edition of Science Teacher Magazine. Their article “Scaling Up: Using plant growth to understand climate change” centers on the carbon unit which uses plants as a model for explaining the impact of carbon dioxide gas not only for plant growth but also on climate change.
Students are given the opportunity to test all the major variables that effect a plant’s mass like water, soil and carbon dioxide gas. They track the flow of energy and check to see if mass has permanently changed as they research and explore using lessons based on the learning progression model. As students come to the conclusion that plant growth is mainly caused by the intake of carbon dioxide from the air they also learn more about this invisible gas and its impact on the environment. Ten years ago, the carbon unit was first piloted in California at La Cumbre Junior High School by Brad Hufschmid and Tiare Dodson. It has now been taught in nine states by over a hundred teachers to thousands of students. It was taught last year in all four of our district’s local junior high schools and California schools from Arroyo Grande to Newberry Park.
Their article is available on the Browse Journal section (.99 cents for non-members): learningcenter.nsta.org