Climate Time Line Evaluation
Appendix

Part 1: Interview/open-ended survey responses:

Question #1. What scientific information did you learn about climate?

1a. Nothing

In this category, students reported that they did not learn anything about climate science or did not understand the information presented on the site.

Representative quotes:

"I didn’t learn anything"

"I didn’t comprehend most of it because I was too busy looking for answers"

1b. Climate changes over time

In this category, students demonstrated an general understanding that climate changes over time and continues to change. Students understood that climate change is a normal process.

Representative quote(s):

"The different climates over the years and how they’ve changed over the years. And the abrupt change in climate over the years is not important because it’s usual."

"Climate changes over long periods of time"

1c. Ice Age/Glacial Meltdown

In this category, students demonstrated an understanding of the impact that ice ages and glacial meltdowns have had on the Earth and human history.

Representative quote(s):

"Glaciers formed the black sea"

"It’s the water that moves glaciers, not stuff under it"

1d. Earth has different climates and it affects people

In this category, students demonstrated an understanding of various climates and their affects on human civilization and history. Students also understood that climate will continue to affect society through normal processes and abrupt events.

Representative quote:

"Climate affects people and events"

1e. Anasazi

In this category, students reported that the Anasazi and other tribes throughout history have been affected by climate patterns such as droughts and floods.

Representative quote:

"Anazasi people were affected by droughts"

1f. Statistical Info on Climate Events

In this category, students were able to report statistical facts and information relating to major climate events and the affect that these events have had on people throughout history.

Representative quote:

"Influenza killed 20 million."

1g. Major Climate Events

In this category, students demonstrated an understanding that major climate events are normal. Students also understood the devastating affect that major climate events can have on human civilization.

Representative quotes:

"Tornadoes and hurricanes kill a lot of people and are unpredictable."

"El Nino affects climate patterns."

"Major volcanic events and how they impact global climate."

"There was info on a major hurricane that was interesting."

"I learned there was a major volcanic event in 1259 A.D."

1h. Earth’s Movement and Climate:

In this category, students demonstrated an understanding that the movement of the earth influences climate.

Representative quotes:

"I learned what the obliquity cycle is and tilt of earth on axis and how it changes.

"I learned about oscillation, northern and southern." [couldn’t define when asked]

It is actually the Earth that has obliquity and it is 23.5 degrees

1i. Quiz Answers:

In this category, students reported that they learned the answers to the quiz.

Representative quotes:

"I learned the answers to the questions."

Question #2. What historical information did you learn about climate?

2a. Nothing

In this category, students reported that they did not learn anything about history and climate or that they did not see this information on the web site.

Representative quotes:

"I didn’t come across anything about history."

"I didn’t go to any of the history links. I saw it but didn’t go to it."

2b. Climate Changes Over Time

In this category, students demonstrated an understanding that climate changes over time and continues to change. Students understood that climate change is a normal process.

Representative quotes:

"Climate has changed a lot through history."

"Back in history there were droughts and drier, but there were also a lot of floods."

"That we’ve gotten cooler but we are heating up"

2c. Ice Age/Glaciers

In this category, students demonstrated an understanding of the impact that ice ages and glacial meltdowns have had on the Earth and human history.

Representative quotes:

"The last glacial meltdown was 18,000 years ago or something."

"After ice age glacier melted, sea went up, in Black Sea, the Black Sea got bigger."

"There was a little ice age."

2d. Climate affects people and people affect climate

In this category, students understood that humans and climate are interconnected because climate has an impact on human society, yet people also affect climate through actions such as greenhouse gas emissions.

Representative quotes:

"People used to live in caves and depended on the climate for survival"

"That the temperatures that we have now are about 5c lower than some of the temperatures in the past"

2e. Anasazi

In this category, students reported learning about the history of the Anasazi people and their connection to climate.

Representative quotes:

"I learned about Mesa Verde and the Anasazi people"

2f. Patterns among the Chaos

In this category, students reported learning that climate works in cycles that may appear chaotic but are regular and patterned.

Representative quotes:

"There are patterns among the chaos"

2g. Statistical Info on Climate Events

In this category, students demonstrated an understanding that major climate events are normal. Students also understood the devastating affect that major climate events can have on human civilization.

Representative quotes:

"The worst flood was in 1200. I don’t remember what the name was."

"Learned about statistical info related to deaths and impact through the timeline tables."

"20 million people died from the flu pandemic"

Question #3. What types of climate forces drive climate variability?

3a. Nothing

In this category, students reported that they did not learn anything about the forces that drive climate variability or did not see it on the web site.

Representative quotes:

"I didn’t really see anything on that."

"I know I saw that but I don’t know."

3b. Major climate events

In this category, students demonstrated an understanding that major climate events are normal. Students also understood the devastating affect that major climate events can have on human civilization.

Representative quotes:

"Long droughts"

"El Nino"

3c. Human Impact (Pollution, Greenhouse Gases)

In this category, students demonstrated a partial or flawed understanding of the ways in which humans impact climate, particularly through anthropogenic emissions, which contribute to global warming.

Representative quotes:

"Global warming – caused by CO2. CO2 traps methane and gases and keeps it in the earth’s atmosphere."

"Like pollution and stuff. Ground pollution"

"Global warming; carbon dioxide in development and cars, gases get trapped in the atmosphere, plus methane from cows and burning fossil fuels and deforestation"

3d. Earth’s Tilt

In this category, students reported learning that the tilt of the earth impacts climate variability.

Representative quotes:

"The way the earth is tilted."

"The earth spins on its axis but goes between different degrees."

"Tilt and its influence on seasonal change"

3e. Sun In this category, students reported learning that the sun influence climate variability.

Representative quotes:

"The Sun"

"The Sun and Moon and stuff"

"Gravity and the moon and the sun"

3f. Wind, Water, and Precipitation

In this category, students reported learning that wind, water, and precipitation drive climate variability.

Representative quotes:

"Tree rings and something about them indicates precipitation and abrupt climate change"

"Rain and stuff"

Question #4. What did you learn about the relationship between climate and current events?

4a. Nothing

In this category, students reported that they did not learn anything about climate and current events on the web site or did not find any related information on the web site.

Representative quotes:

"I didn’t find that on the web site."

"Sort of, not really."

4b. Humans Affect Climate

In this category, students demonstrated an understanding of the affect that humans have had on climate and that anthropogenic emissions are affecting us now and will continue to affect us in the future.

Representative quotes:

"Pollution today will affect climate later – it will be hotter."

"Burning fossil fuels affects climate"

"We are causing global warming"

4c. Climate Affects Humans

In this category, students demonstrated an understanding of the ways in which climate can affect humans socially, politically, and economically.

Representative quotes:

"It affects the lifestyles. Just like with the dust bowl and the kind of money we have to pay and stuff like that."

"Climate can affect anyone anywhere"

"Climate controls a lot of our everyday events"

4d. Statistical Info on Climate Events

In this category, students demonstrated an understanding that major climate events are normal. Students understood the devastating affect that major climate events can have on human civilization. Students also understood the impact that current climate events can have on societies around the globe.

Representative quotes:

"The climate makes current events. Like hurricanes and storms that cause damage and cost money"

"There was a flood in America in the 1970s and lots of people and farmland and animals died"

4e. Relationship between past and present:

In this category, students demonstrated an understanding of the connection between past climates and current and future climates. Students understood that climate occurs in cycles and that climate events from the past can re-occur or can still affect us today.

Representative quotes:

"That in a certain area, an event that happened a long time ago could re-occur, be as bad."

"The climate from the past affects the climate today."

"Stuff from a long time ago can still affect today’s climate. The glaciers are melting because of global warming."

 

Part 2: Powers of 10 Model

Likert Scale Survey Question #6: I understood the Powers of 10 Model

All 8th, 9th, and 12th grade students were asked to respond to the above statement on a likert scale ranging from strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree to strongly disagree. Student responses are detailed below in table # 29 .

Table # 29 I understood the Powers of 10 Model.Graph: I understood the Powers of 10 mode

Survey data indicates that the greatest number of 8th grade students were split between taking a neutral stance on whether or not they understood the powers of 10 model (39%) and strongly disagreeing that they understood the powers of 10 model (30%). The greatest amount of 9th graders also took a neutral stance (35%), but an equal number are split between agreeing (25%) and disagreeing (25%) about whether they understood the powers of 10 model. The twelfth graders are equally split between agreeing that they understand the powers of 10 (33%) and taking a neutral stance (33%). To corroborate these findings, we asked the 8th, 9th, and 12th graders what the powers of 10 model is in an open-ended survey or interview question.

Open-ended survey/interview question. "Did you understand the powers of 10 model? Can you explain it?"

Table #30 . Did you understand the powers of 10 model?

Graph: Did you understand the Powers of 10 Model

The majority of 8th, 9th and 12th graders stated in interviews and open-ended survey questions that they did not understand the powers of 10 model (61% of 8th graders, 85% of 9th graders, 79% of 12th graders).

Table #31 Percent of students who accurately explained the powers of 10 model

Graph: Percent of Students who accurately expalined the Powers of 10 Model

Data indicates that the majority of 8th graders (52%) were able to accurately explain the powers of 10 model. Less than the majority of 9th and 12th graders were able to explain the model. Again, we attribute the great difference in percentages to the amount of time researching the website. While 8th, 9th, and 12th graders all had 30 minutes to review the website, as stated before, only the 8th graders were able to spend the whole 30 minutes exploring the website. The 9th graders and 12th graders experienced shut-downs of the computers and had to spend significant time reloading the website.

Representational Quotes: Can you explain the Powers of 10 Model?

8th grade

  1. "Yes, how many years back. 10 to the 2nd = 100 years back."
  2. "How the site is laid out in the year patterns."
  3. "Information is presented by a power of 10."

9th grade

  1. "Yes. 10 to the zero = 1 year. 10 to the 1 = 10 years. 10 to the 2 = 100 yrs."
  2. "Yes. The website timeline gore back in powers of 10 (1, 10, 100, 1000) years."
  3. "100 years, 1000, 10, 000 years and then at the end it gave a summary of all the years and a brief explanation of what happened."

12th grade

  1. "The left column of years. A system of categorization."
  2. "Its how the summary of science and history resources are grouped by time period."
  3. "Large amounts of time in smaller groups of 10."

Summary of Powers of 10 Model

In sum, the majority of 8th, 9th and 12th grade students reported that they did not understand the powers of 10 model. Regardless of their self-reported data, interviews and open-ended survey questions data shows that a majority of 8th graders (52%) and a third of the 12th graders (35.7%) were able to accurately explain the powers of 10 model. A lesser percent of 9th graders were able to accurately explain the model (12%). Because there was a significant difference in time spent exploring the website (8th graders had the full 30 minutes while 9th and 12th graders had less time due to technical problems with the school computers) and significant differences in the percentage of students who could accurately explain the powers of 10 model, it appears that more time spent exploring the website contributes to better understanding of the powers of 10 model..

Part 3: Expert Opinion

Technical Aspects/Navigation

  • The site was easy to navigate - (2 respondents)

I liked the timeline itself. It made the site very easy to use. Someone would not need to know all the definitions (e.g. different eras, etc.) ahead of time because the information was all readily explained. Someone not familiar with the science content could readily find the explanation they need.

The presentation of materials was excellent. I could on one page get a sense of the many important attributes of climates. I didn’t have to jump all over the site to get information or to get the big picture.

  • The site was not easy to navigate - (2 respondents)

I was a little confused as how to switch timescales easily when in "climate science" or some specific webpage contents. You could select from the left menu bar but was wondering if there was a way to do it w/o using that.

The navigation was not totally intuitive. I even went to the tutorial (a desperation move for me). What I found there was not what I expected (how to usefully move around the website) and not particularly interesting.

  • The site is clear and organized – (4 respondents)

Very nice pictures, layout, etc.

I thought the site was very organized. I could go anywhere I wanted to go quite easily. I just knew where to go on the site without having to search extensively

  • The site is a useful resource – (3 respondents)

Nice job, this will become a really useful resource

Looks like you have tons of great information and resources

This is an outstanding site with wonderful information. I think it is well organized and excellent for high school students, college students and interested citizens. I really enjoyed reading it.

  • The site is not a useful resource – (1 respondent)

This is a text rich site, and I found it too broad and not deep enough in any one area to be of use to my non-major students.

  • The Powers of 10 model is helpful – (1 respondent)

I kinda liked it. It was quite useful. It is a nice acronym to help the understanding of climate and history. It is a logical breaking point to get a larger view of climate.

  • The Powers of 10 model is not helpful – (1 respondent)

I don't find the timeline as existing here a good navigational metaphor for this diverse assembly of information.

  • The links were helpful – (2 respondents)

All of the links will be really great for the kids doing research on these topics.

  • The links were not helpful – (3 respondents)

Beyond climate history had a broken link

Please add useful 2 sentence reviews of these links telling people why they should go there and what they can expect to find.

There are some nice links to how climate proxies are determined but they are a little scattered.

Science/History Content

  • Need additional information – (7 respondents)

Not all terms used in the page are in the glossary (PDO, Milankovich, etc)

Search does work but I (personally) find that to be variable, depending on what you are looking for.

You do have a sitemap but an index might be useful.

I'd strongly suggest to incorporate a larger international community to improve on this initial display on the web… For example, I won't present anymore a LGM globe, where the Nordic Seas are ice covered (as compiled by CLIMAP 20 years ago).

The section dealing with paleoclimate on the 1 billion year-scale in particular could use some help, as it completely misses out on other major glaciations in Earth's history (the "snowball Earth" intervals between ~750-575 Ma; the Permian glaciation).

One thing that jumped out at me was that in the different timelines, the summary of 1000-years says the years (down the left side of the summary) are in BP, though it appears to be in calendar years (AD). It was obvious to me, but some people might be confused by the lack of column titles in the 10-year and 1-year tables.

The "climate beyond the last 100 ky" is characterized by some unique events, of much larger scale than observed in the recent past.

100's of millions of years history: Consider adding some information about how continent formation (Pangea, Gonwanaland, etc), continental position, tectonic activity, and CO2 influenced climate.

The climate history portion of the web site was good. They could improve the link between paleo observations and historical observations from the 18th and 17th century and modern space-based measurements.

  • Coverage of CO2/greenhouse gases/global warming was not adequate – (3 respondents)

1000 year history: I suggest showing the temperature reconstructions done by Mann et al. that suggest temperatures are now warmer than at any time in the past 1000 years in the Northern Hemisphere. You might also show the conflicting work done by Esper et al. which show temperatures during the Medieval warm period were comparable to today (see the 22 March 2002 issue of Science, vol. 295, pp. 2250-53).

100 year history: I suggest showing and discussing the 20th century surface temperature record. The warming of the early part of the century (likely natural), followed by the cooling from the 1940-1970s (again, likely natural) and then by accelerated warming after the mid 1970s (likely anthropogenic) is entirely relevant and important to discuss.

My only gripe is that the status you accord to greenhouse gases (and in particular anthropogenic emissions) is very low. This is ok for some time lines and perspectives, but the fact that neither the 100 year timeline overview, science, or resources section contains a reference to greenhouse gases appears unjustifiable to me.

On the resources for 10,000 year time frame, we find this link: Solar Influences on Holocene Climate from CO2 Magazine. No other explanation. The folks at CO2 magazine are far from an unbiased source of information. If you read this short page, you'll see that its sole purpose is to poopoo the IPCC as a biased source of information. Their frame of reference is to prove that more CO2 is GOOD for us all, because it will stimulate more plants to grow, making the world a better, more productive place.

  • Need to reconsider Black Sea evidence – (2 respondents)

I think you should probably look a bit more critically at the evidence for the Black Sea flood causing the spread of "Indo-European" language/culture. It is an interesting hypothesis but the only part that has been tested is what the Black Sea depositional record shows.

Re: your paleoclimatology timeline, it's time to lay the "BS Flood"Myth to bed… There is no evidence of catastrophic northward flow through the Bosphorus at any time, let alone 5600 BCE. Ryan and Pitman jumped the gun, and nobody seems to have noticed that the mechanism they invoke for delaying the rise in the level of the Black Sea for at least 1500 years after global sea level rose high enough to flood it, i.e. an earthen dam, was nothing but wishful thinking.

  • Changes to facilitate learning – (2 respondents)

I think it would be really helpful to teachers to have some online exercises that students could do or exercises designed for use in the classroom. For instance, I could ask students to review one of the time increments so they have background and then have them do an in class exercise with some of the data that was on the site.

An important thing in your planning is to have a solid list of the most important points that a student should learn and leave the site with -- and then be certain that those points are well made on your site.

I'm of the opinion that because the web allows us the freedom to encourage interactivity instead of passive learning, then we should encourage its use throughout any educational site. Animation, although helpful, is still passive -- we watch the events unfold. Interactive animation, such as that using Macromedia Flash, allows/encourages/requires the user to do something in order to get the full effect. A site should strive to accommodate different learning styles -- visual learners, textual learners, auditory learners.

 

Return to CTL Evaluation
Return to CTL Homepage