Exploring the Environment Goes Global

What's more topical than global climate change? It seems like a day doesn't pass in which you don't have a discussion about whether our climate is experiencing some long-term change. To that end, we added six modules around that very topic to our popular and long-running Exploring the Environment® website. These six modules—Biodiversity, Global Temperatures, Ice Caps and Sea Levels, Human Health Effects, Drought, and Volcanoes—are now being tested in classrooms throughout the world as part of our Exploring the Environment—Global Climate Change project that is funded by the NASA Innovations in Global Climate Change Education program.

These new modules also allowed us to build a modern interface for the Exploring the Environment website, whose 25 existing modules and activities now are called the legacy modules. They're still popular, though, with the site registering millions of hits each year, more than a decade and a half after its creation.

In 2012 we recruited a cohort of teachers from not only around the United States, but from nine other countries as well to help test the new modules with their students. Their feedback will help us hone the new problem-based learning scenarios even further.

New Approach
The new problem-based learning modules present an updated theoretical approach to problem-based learning that is somewhat different from the legacy Exploring the Environment modules. The new modules focus more on scientific inquiry, use of satellite imagery, and incorporation of teaching strategies recommended in recent problem-based learning educational research. Accompanying the modules are teacher pages that discuss improved pedagogical strategies. The ETE-GCC modules update, enhance, and expand existing modules with new material that focuses strictly on global climate change topics. They feature data that incorporate current NASA tools for studying global climate change data.

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