In this work, we examine middle school students' understanding of the greenhouse effect and global warming. We designed and refined a technology-enhanced curriculum module called Global Warming: Virtual Earth. In the module activities, students conduct virtual experiments with a visualization of the greenhouse effect. They analyze data and draw conclusions about how individual variables effect changes in the Earth's temperature. They also carry out inquiry activities to make connections between scientific processes, the socio-scientific issues, and ideas presented in the media. Results show that participating in the unit increases students' understanding of the science. We discuss how students integrate their ideas about global climate change as a result of using virtual experiments that allow them to explore meaningful complexities of the climate system.
- Greenhouse effect
- Middle school students
- Technology-enhanced instruction