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Paper: The Tipping Point: Thresholds Between Earth's Physical Systems
Volume: 436, Learning from Inquiry In Practice
Page: 237
Authors: Kim, S.; Stauffer, H.; Peach, K.; Nelson, K.
Abstract: The Tipping Point inquiry activity was designed for physical sciences transfer students to the University of California, Santa Cruz, participating in Workshops for Engineering and Science Transfers (WEST). Our challenge was to design an activity that would be relevant and interesting to students across a broad range of disciplines, i.e., chemistry, earth sciences, computer sciences, engineering, physics, etc. We decided to frame our inquiry activity in the context of Earth systems. The scope of our activity includes the interconnection between disciplines and the growing concern for future climate change. We had three “starter” activities that were simple models of ocean acidification, thermohaline interactions, and surface temperatures. After visiting each station, groups of 3–4 students developed and investigated questions pertaining to their initial starter. After free-form investigations, the instructors gave the groups figures that contained scientific data to help incorporate their small-scale models into a global system. We also provided a climate model demonstration and Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction presentation. The purpose of these “thinking tools” was to help students critically evaluate the thresholds between Earth’s physical systems. Overall, our goal to provide a cross-disciplinary activity and help build community between transfer students was successful.
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