Word count and context

An examination of the Next Generation Science Standards by word count and context regarding claims of excessive focus on climate change.

Robert Bevins, PhD (Kentuckians for Science Education)

Corrections:

Mr. Cothran has pointed out that he used a different document in his word search. Rather than the NGSS document, he used the Kentucky Core Academic Standards (KCAS). This is a fair point, but it is unlikely to alter my final conclusion. Since the KCAS contain the NGSS, the pages copied and pasted into their proper places, except for the introductions to each set of grade levels, the content and context is largely unchanged.

Further, as these are standards and not curriculum, any argument that vocabulary words are missing is misleading. There are different philosophies on writing standards. In one, every single detail is spelled out, leaving teachers and school boards, and in Kentucky, site based councils, very little flexibility in writing local curricula or lesson plans. In another, goals for student learning are expressed, and it is not possible for a student to reach the goal without learning and understanding the vocabulary and formulas that are “left out.” The destination is the same and there are shared features, but educators have the ability to shape the curriculum to the needs and requirements of their students, the classroom resources available, and any local or regional resources that may be unique.

To quote his response

He also asserted that my word count involved terms related to climate change and that, in fact, the terms I found in my word search were related to climate science in general, but not climate change in particular. What I in fact said was that these were terms related to climate science.

Again, Bevins misrepresents what I said. Here is what I said: “If we had only Kentucky’s science standards to go by, we would have to conclude that climate and weather issues are more important than gravity, photosynthesis, electricity, genetics, radiation and quantum mechanics.” [Emphasis added] I then said, very specifically, exactly which terms I was counting: “…the terms “climate,” “weather” and “global warming” are together mentioned over 130 times.”

His claim goes awry from the start. “Related to climate science” is imprecise language. Air could be said to be related to veterinary science as the animals involved tend to breath air. Direct reference to a concept should be our guideline, not the potential that somebody could draw a weak relation between any one of the possible definitions of one term and another.

It is misleading to claim that “weather” is a term that is always used to refer to climate science. This would be an imprecise use of language. Weather often refers to nothing more than weather as a short term phenomenon.

Similarly, climate is itself is not always a reference to climate science. I’m sure that statement will make Cothran’s head spin, but when climate is used to describe weather over a suitably long period of time, it does not necessarily refer to climate science. Climate science starts, in my opinion, after one studies why a particular climate exists and how it has or can change. Otherwise, a mere description of what cancer is becomes oncology.

Global warming is “related to” and refers to climate science. The looseness of terminology and use of language used by Cothran in making his claims allows him to say that overly broad definitions make him right, while a careful use of language allows individuals to communicate and discuss issues without ambiguity.

Context is important in making these distinctions. Unless context is examined, a word count is insufficient evidence to make a claim regarding actual content. If Cothran’s argument relies on weak evidence, the argument itself can be no stronger than this weakest link. I find it difficult to believe that Cothran was not and is not aware that these terms are overly broad, and the resulting overestimation of the importance of climate science (or climate change) to the standards was his intent. However, as I cannot be certain, I concede that is possible that where I was looking for scientific meaning, Cothran, not being a scientist, is not used to the precise use of language required for discussing scientific topics.

In fact, this is the problem we come up against when a person refers to evolution as “just a theory.” This is sloppy use of language. A theory could mean “hunch,” but in science, it refers to an explanation of an observed phenomenon with broad and significant supporting evidence and no disconfirming evidence. A theory in science is the most exciting and important thing you can discuss.

I did say, prior to those specific claims, that there was “an avalanche of terms related to climate change.” I said that because my assumption was that the reason for having all of those climate and weather related terms in the standards was because of the recent interest in climate change. In other words, the prevalence of climate science terminology was my evidence for an emphasis on climate change in the standards.

Now I suppose someone could argue with my assumption that the reason for the inclusion of all the climate science emphasis in the standards is not due to the interest in climate change (and Bevins tries to do this), but that would be rather hard to believe. It would also not square with the responses by standards supporters to my argument, which was not that I was wrong about the emphasis on climate change, but rather that the standards were, in fact, correct in emphasizing it (through an emphasis on climate science). Just see the two responses that appeared to my article in the Herald Leader two weeks later.

Cothran makes two assumptions. One is that all of the uses of these words are in reference to climate science. They can be, but are not always. The second is the one that he is aware of and admits to making.

Cothran seems to think that my point is that there is no interest in climate science. This couldn’t be further from the truth. My point is that it climate science  is not over-emphasized, but receives just enough emphasis. Cothran makes it sound as though other concepts are excluded or de-emphasized because they did not show up in his cursory examination.

Climate science is an overarching concept within the KCAS/NGSS because multiple fields of study contribute to it. A discussion of climate science requires understanding of the sun, the atmosphere, the heat storage capacity of CO2, methane and water, the carbon cycle, the water cycle, the various climate types found on the earth, and an understanding of how to approach some of the engineering required to deal with potential issues raised by climate science. The standards were developed to tie different parts of science together, which is an important lesson to learn about science, as well as an effective technique for teaching complex subject matter. There are few other topics as suited as climate science for students to study with the purpose of synthesizing and evaluating this knowledge.

A word search of the KACS for terms related to genetics, “gene,” “trait,” and “inherit” turns up 447 instances of these three words! I picked these words because they are related to genetics, or at least one definition is, but they may have multiple definitions and may turn up in other words.

Using Cothran’s methodology, I have shown that genetics is stressed at an extreme level, which is good for those of us that can teach genetics. However, “gene” isn’t constrained to be the word “gene”, or even just part of the word “genetic,” but it also shows up in generation. Generations are very important to any discussion of the inheritance (one of my words shows up there) of traits (another word I picked). The problem is that it is also part of generate, and students are constantly asked to generate models in the KCAS/NGSS.

The truth of the matter is that genetics is required to discuss the multiple sections on the inheritance of traits in the life science category.

Let’s try gravity. My three search terms are “gravit” (this will catch gravity and gravitate, as well as gravitation), “orbit,” and “attract.” All of these are words that are related to gravity, and my search finds 78 uses of them. Not very useful information, but it is a data point. Reading the physical science and earth and space categories, it should again be clear that gravity will be something students will have to have a decent understanding of, if they are do describe how planets orbit stars or the motion of galaxies, both of which are goals of the KCAS/NGSS.

Photosynthesis is implicit in much of the life science section, but would be part of the physical science section as well. Electricity would be discussed in physical science, especially in sections on energy, but there would be some discussion of it in the life science category. Radiation fits into the energy and matter sections of all three of these categories.  As for quantum mechanics, this is a very advanced field of study. For the most part, it belongs in AP courses that supplement the KCAS/NGSS. I only wish that most graduating students would be conversant in quantum mechanics, but few college graduates have that level of skill, not because colleges are not doing their jobs, but because it is a topic mostly addressed in upper level physics and engineering classes. In fact, I haven’t even touched on the engineering category of the standards.

In order to fully correct this post, I will perform the same analysis that I did on the NGSS for the KCAS. The methods will largely stay the same, but I will add an additional criterion. Any use of “weather,” “climate,” or “global warming” that is struck through (like this) will be counted as not being a reference to human caused climate change. The reasoning should be obvious, as this is material that is being removed and replaced by the NGSS. I will also develop a classification rubric for references to climate science that excludes references that are not clearly pointing to climate science/climatology, and ask for colleagues to refine it so that it is rigorous enough.

Alterations are denoted by the use of green text.

Introduction

It should be immediately obvious that a word search is not serious research on a topic, especially when climate has multiple meanings that can relate to education. Following are the dictionary ones of climate as defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary

1 : a region of the earth having specified climatic conditions
2 a : the average course or condition of the weather at a place usually over a period of years as exhibited by temperature, wind velocity, and precipitation
b : the prevailing set of conditions (as of temperature and humidity) indoors (a climate-controlled office)
3 : the prevailing influence or environmental conditions characterizing a group or period : atmosphere (a climate of fear)

1 and 2a are clearly useful in a scientific sense, and 2b could be used in an engineering lesson. 3 could be used in reference to the “classroom climate” meaning

Classroom climate refers to the prevailing mood, attitudes, standards, and tone that you and your students feel when they are in your classroom.  A negative classroom climate can feel hostile, chaotic, and out of control. A positive classroom climate feels safe, respectful, welcoming, and supportive of student learning.

As there are a variety of ways that climate can be used, it should be obvious that the context in which climate is used should be important.

Weather and climate may occur in sections discussing anthropogenic (human caused) climate change, but may also be found as parts of discussions of daily weather, how to read weather maps, regional climate (i.e. desert, rain forest) or historical changes in climate.

In this analysis, I examine the context of the occurrence of each instance of weather, climate and global warming within the DCI Arrangements of the Next Generation Science Standards, which are functionally identical to the proposed additions to the Kentucky core academic standards, excepting a division of middle school material into specific grades, to determine if each use of these words is or is not a clear reference to human influenced climate change, as has been suggested by Mr. Martin Cothran of the Kentucky Family Foundation on multiple occasions, both in newsprint and on his personal weblog.

It has come to my attention that Mr. Cothran’s analysis uses the Kentucky Core Academic Standards (KCAS), which includes the entire Kentucky educational standards for every subject. The KCAS science standards sections includes the previous science standards (which have been struck through, denoting that they are no longer applicable) and nearly the entire NGSS. The only parts of the NGSS that I have found missing from the KCAS, upon initial examination, are introductions to the Kindergarten, Elementary, Middle and High School years. All other material in the DCI document, linked to above, appear to be present.

Once I have completed a full analysis, using updated methods to classify struck through material, of the KCAS, I will post an updated version of this paper. 

Methods

Using the PDF of the DCI Arrangements of the Next Generation Science Standards document, an advanced search for the words “weather,” “climate,” and “global warming” was performed. Each instance of these words was copied into a separate document for coding.

Coding rules: Based on context, score words clearly referring to anthropogenic climate change as related (ACC +), not clearly referring to anthropogenic climate change as not related. This conservative binary system was selected for ease of coding and speed. Section headings were rated as not related unless the heading specifically mentioned anthropogenic climate change in some way. Where a standard specifies that climate change is not a topic for assessment, it was ruled as not being a related (double negative). This method prevents an overestimate of the focus on anthropogenic climate change, but as a strict, conservative system, may be biased towards an underestimate.

Results

Weather Climate Global warming
Total ACC + Total ACC + Total ACC +
K-5 31 0 9 0 0 0
MS 25 0 20 4 0 0
HS 11 2 27 18 1 1
Total 67 2 56 22 1 1

Table 1: Total and Anthropogenic Climate Change related (ACC+) uses of specified words within the DCI Arrangements of the Next Generation Science Standards document.

Running cumulative totals are listed after relevant quotes from each section are presented in the Appendix, with total counts for K-5, MS, and HS listed after each grouping of grades is completed.

Conclusion

Word counts are inherently unsuited for examining any document unless context is also considered. Mr Cothran’s initial analysis of the NGSS material included in the KCAS document vastly overestimates the importance of anthropogenic climate change in the NGSS document, especially in elementary and middle school grades. In fact, no clear reference to human caused climate change exists within the NGSS sections applicable to the elementary years, and out of the 45 uses of “weather” and “climate” found within the middle school section, no uses of “weather” and only four uses of “climate” are used in the context of anthropogenic climate change.

As my study used the original NGSS document instead of the KCAS document used by Cothran, the reader must extrapolate the results of this analysis to the KCAS document, which reproduces, unaltered, most of the NGSS. An examination of the KCAS will be performed and made available in order to determine if a change in the document where the same material is found will alter the result. 

Anthropogenic climate change is stressed in high school, making up two of eleven instances of “weather,” eighteen out of twenty-seven uses of climate are clear references to anthropogenic climate change. The high school section is the only one that includes any use of the phrase “climate change.”

The presence of the word “weathering,” a term used to describe erosion, including chemical and mechanical processes, which has “weather” as a root word, were found by the advanced search and further decrease the value of the original search. This should highlight the weakness of word counts for any in depth analysis. The inclusion of the word “weather” is almost entirely unnecessary to the analysis, and only serves to inflate an already unreliable estimate.

Only twenty-five uses of “climate,” “weather,” and “climate change” were found to refer to anthropogenic climate change out of a total of 124 uses of these words, as found by the word count portion of an advanced search. This means that 99 uses, approximately 80% of those noted by Mr. Cothran, are not related. It is my conclusion that his claim that the NGSS, and therefore the KCAS, contains an excessive focus on human effects on Earth’s climate is false based on faulty methods, and that his analysis should be discounted. It is much more accurate to note that of the seventy-six items listed on the document’s  NGSS table of contents, only five include any relevant discussion of human caused climate change, with one found in the middle school material and four found in the high school material.

(all items are reproduced below the fold in the Appendix)

Appendix

p4 – Kindergarten

The performance expectations in kindergarten help students formulate answers to questions such as: “What happens if you push or pull an object harder? Where do animals live and why do they live there? What is the weather like today and how is it different from yesterday?” Kindergarten performance expectations include PS2, PS3, LS1, ESS2, ESS3, and ETS1 Disciplinary Core Ideas from the NRC Framework. Students are expected to develop understanding of patterns and variations in local weather and the purpose of weather forecasting to prepare for, and respond to, severe weather.

Weather total 4: ACC + 0

Climate total 0: ACC + 0

Global warming total 0: ACC + 0

p8 – K-ESS2 Earth’s Systems

K-ESS2-1. Use and share observations of local weather conditions to describe patterns over time. [Clarification Statement: Examples of qualitative observations could include descriptions of the weather (such as sunny, cloudy, rainy, and warm); examples of quantitative observations could include numbers of sunny, windy, and rainy days in a month. Examples of patterns could include that it is usually cooler in the morning than in the afternoon and the number of sunny days versus cloudy days in different months.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment of quantitative observations limited to whole numbers and relative measures such as warmer/cooler.]

and

Disciplinary Core Ideas

ESS2.D: Weather and Climate

  • Weather is the combination of sunlight, wind, snow or rain, and temperature in a particular region at a particular time. People measure these conditions to describe and record the weather and to notice patterns over time. (K-ESS2-1)

Weather total 9: ACC + 0

Climate total 1: ACC + 0

Global warming total 0: ACC + 0

p9 – K-ESS3 Earth and Human Activity

K-ESS3-2. Ask questions to obtain information about the purpose of weather forecasting to prepare for, and respond to, severe weather.* [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on local forms of severe weather.]

and

ESS3.B: Natural Hazards

  • § Some kinds of severe weather are more likely than others in a given region. Weather scientists forecast severe weather so that the communities can prepare for and respond to these events. (K-ESS3-2)

Weather total 15: ACC + 0

Climate total 1: ACC + 0

Global warming total 0: ACC + 0

p22 – Third Grade

The performance expectations in third grade help students formulate answers to questions such as: “What is typical weather in different parts of the world and during different times of the year? How can the impact of weather-related hazards be reduced? How do organisms vary in their traits? How are plants, animals, and environments of the past similar or different from current plants, animals, and environments? What happens to organisms when their environment changes? How do equal and unequal forces on an object affect the object? How can magnets be used?” Third grade performance expectations include PS2, LS1, LS2, LS3, LS4, ESS2, and ESS3 Disciplinary Core Ideas from the NRC Framework. Students are able to organize and use data to describe typical weather conditions expected during a particular season. By applying their understanding of weather-related hazards, students are able to make a claim about the merit of a design solution that reduces the impacts of such hazards.

Weather total 19: ACC + 0

Climate total 1: ACC + 0

Global warming total 0: ACC + 0

p27 – 3-LS4 Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity

3-LS4-4. Make a claim about the merit of a solution to a problem caused when the environment changes and the types of plants and animals that live there may change.* [Clarification Statement: Examples of environmental changes could include changes in land characteristics, water distribution, temperature, food, and other organisms.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to a single environmental change. Assessment does not include the greenhouse effect or climate change.]

In this first mention of climate change the standards specifically rule out any assessment including climate change. Rated as not related to ACC as per coding rules.

Weather total 19: ACC + 0

Climate total 2: ACC + 0

Global warming total 0: ACC + 0

p28 – 3-ESS2 Earth’s Systems

3-ESS2-1. Represent data in tables and graphical displays to describe typical weather conditions expected during a particular season. [Clarification Statement: Examples of data could include average temperature, precipitation, and wind direction.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment of graphical displays is limited to pictographs and bar graphs. Assessment does not include climate change.]

3-ESS2-2. Obtain and combine information to describe climates in different regions of the world.

and

Weather and Climate

  • § Scientists record patterns of the weather across different times and areas so that they can make predictions about what kind of weather might happen next. (3-ESS2-1)
  • Climate describes a range of an area’s typical weather conditions and the extent to which those conditions vary over years. (3-ESS2-2)

Weather total 24: ACC + 0

Climate total 5: ACC + 0

Global warming total 0: ACC + 0

p29 – 3-ESS3 Earth and Human Activity

3-ESS3-1. Make a claim about the merit of a design solution that reduces the impacts of a weather-related hazard.* [Clarification Statement: Examples of design solutions to weather-related hazards could include barriers to prevent flooding, wind resistant roofs, and lightning rods.]

Weather total 26:ACC + 0

Climate total 5: ACC + 0

Global warming total 0: ACC + 0

p30 – Fourth Grade

Students are able to use a model of waves to describe patterns of waves in terms of amplitude and wavelength, and that waves can cause objects to move. Students are expected to develop understanding of the effects of weathering or the rate of erosion by water, ice, wind, or vegetation.

Weather total 27: ACC + 0

Climate total 5: ACC + 0

Global warming total 0: ACC + 0

p35 – 4-ESS2 Earth’s Systems

4-ESS2-1. Make observations and/or measurements to provide evidence of the effects of weathering or the rate of erosion by water, ice, wind, or vegetation. [Clarification Statement: Examples of variables to test could include angle of slope in the downhill movement of water, amount of vegetation, speed of wind, relative rate of deposition, cycles of freezing and thawing of water, cycles of heating and cooling, and volume of water flow.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to a single form of weathering or erosion.]

Weather total 29: ACC + 0

Climate total 5: ACC + 0

Global warming total 0: ACC + 0

p44 – 5-ESS2 Earth’s Systems

5-ESS2-1. Develop a model using an example to describe ways the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact. [Clarification Statement: Examples could include the influence of the ocean on ecosystems, landform shape, and climate; the influence of the atmosphere on landforms and ecosystems through weather and climate; and the influence of mountain ranges on winds and clouds in the atmosphere. The geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere are each a system.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to the interactions of two systems at a time.]

ESS2.A: Earth Materials and Systems

  • § Earth’s major systems are the geosphere (solid and molten rock, soil, and sediments), the hydrosphere (water and ice), the atmosphere (air), and the biosphere (living things, including humans). These systems interact in multiple ways to affect Earth’s surface materials and processes. The ocean supports a variety of ecosystems and organisms, shapes landforms, and influences climate. Winds and clouds in the atmosphere interact with the landforms to determine patterns of weather. (5-ESS2-1)

Total K-5 uses of weather, climate, global warming

Weather total 31: ACC + 0

Climate total, 9: ACC + 0

Global warming total 0: ACC + 0

p51, 52 – Middle School Earth and Space Sciences

Students in middle school develop understanding of a wide range of topics in Earth and space science (ESS) that build upon science concepts from elementary school through more advanced content, practice, and crosscutting themes. There are six ESS standard topics in middle school: Space Systems, History of Earth, Earth’s Interior Systems, Earth’s Surface Systems, Weather and Climate, and Human Impacts.

The performance expectations in MS.Earth’s Systems help students formulate answers to the questions: “How do the materials in and on Earth’s crust change over time?” and “How does water influence weather, circulate in the oceans, and shape Earth’s surface?”

The performance expectations in MS.Weather and Climate help students formulate an answer to the question: “What factors interact and influence weather and climate?” Three sub-ideas from the NRC Framework are addressed in these performance expectations: ESS2.C, ESS2.D, and ESS3.D. Students can construct and use models to develop understanding of the factors that control weather and climate. A systems approach is also important here, examining the feedbacks between systems as energy from the sun is transferred between systems and circulates though the ocean and atmosphere. The crosscutting concepts of cause and effect, systems and system models, and stability and change are called out as organizing concepts for these disciplinary core ideas. In the MS.Weather and Climate performance expectations, students are expected to demonstrate proficiency in asking questions, developing and using models, and planning and carrying out investigations; and to use these practices to demonstrate understanding of the core ideas.

Weather total 37: ACC + 0

Climate total, 16: ACC + 0

Global warming total 0: ACC + 0

p54-55 – MS-PS1 Matter and Its Interactions

Influence of Science, Engineering, and Technology on Society and the Natural World

  • § The uses of technologies and any limitations on their use are driven by individual or societal needs, desires, and values; by the findings of scientific research; and by differences in such factors as climate, natural resources, and economic conditions. (MS-PS2-1)

Weather total 37: ACC + 0

Climate total, 17: ACC + 0

Global warming total 0: ACC + 0

  • § The uses of technologies and any limitations on their use are driven by individual or societal needs, desires, and values; by the findings of scientific research; and by differences in such factors as climate, natural resources, and economic conditions. (MS-PS2-1)56 – MS-PS2 Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions

Weather total 37: ACC + 0

Climate total, 18: ACC + 0

Global warming total 0: ACC + 0

p63 – MS-LS2 Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics

Influence of Science, Engineering, and Technology on Society and the Natural World

  • §The use of technologies and any limitations on their use are driven by individual or societal needs, desires, and values; by the findings of scientific research; and by differences in such factors as climate, natural resources, and economic conditions. Thus technology use varies from region to region and over time. (MS-LS2-5)

Weather total 37: ACC + 0

Climate total, 19: ACC + 0

Global warming total 0: ACC + 0

p70-71 – MS-ESS2 Earth’s Systems

MS-ESS2-1. Develop a model to describe the cycling of Earth’s materials and the flow of energy that drives this process. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on the processes of melting, crystallization, weathering, deformation, and sedimentation, which act together to form minerals and rocks through the cycling of Earth’s materials.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include the identification and naming of minerals.]

MS-ESS2-2. Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth’s surface at varying time and spatial scales. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on how processes change Earth’s surface at time and spatial scales that can be large (such as slow plate motions or the uplift of large mountain ranges) or small (such as rapid landslides or microscopic geochemical reactions), and how many geoscience processes (such as earthquakes, volcanoes, and meteor impacts) usually behave gradually but are punctuated by catastrophic events. Examples of geoscience processes include surface weathering and deposition by the movements of water, ice, and wind. Emphasis is on geoscience processes that shape local geographic features, where appropriate.]

MS-ESS2-5. Collect data to provide evidence for how the motions and complex interactions of air masses results in changes in weather conditions. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on how air masses flow from regions of high pressure to low pressure, causing weather (defined by temperature, pressure, humidity, precipitation, and wind) at a fixed location to change over time, and how sudden changes in weather can result when different air masses collide. Emphasis is on how weather can be predicted within probabilistic ranges. Examples of data can be provided to students (such as weather maps, diagrams, and visualizations) or obtained through laboratory experiments (such as with condensation).] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include recalling the names of cloud types or weather symbols used on weather maps or the reported diagrams from weather stations.]

MS-ESS2-6. Develop and use a model to describe how unequal heating and rotation of the Earth cause patterns of atmospheric and oceanic circulation that determine regional climates. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on how patterns vary by latitude, altitude, and geographic land distribution. Emphasis of atmospheric circulation is on the sunlight-driven latitudinal banding, the Coriolis effect, and resulting prevailing winds; emphasis of ocean circulation is on the transfer of heat by the global ocean convection cycle, which is constrained by the Coriolis effect and the outlines of continents. Examples of models can be diagrams, maps and globes, or digital representations.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include the dynamics of the Coriolis effect.]

  • § The complex patterns of the changes and the movement of water in the atmosphere, determined by winds, landforms, and ocean temperatures and currents, are major determinants of local weather patterns. (MS-ESS2-5)

  • § Water’s movements—both on the land and underground—cause weathering and erosion, which change the land’s surface features and create underground formations.(MS-ESS2-2)

ESS2.D: Weather and Climate

  • Weather and climate are influenced by interactions involving sunlight, the ocean, the atmosphere, ice, landforms, and living things. These interactions vary with latitude, altitude, and local and regional geography, all of which can affect oceanic and atmospheric flow patterns.(MS-ESS2-6)
  • § Because these patterns are so complex, weather can only be predicted probabilistically.(MS-ESS2-5)
  • § The ocean exerts a major influence on weather and climate by absorbing energy from the sun, releasing it over time, and globally redistributing it through ocean currents. (MS-ESS2-6)

Weather total 53: ACC + 0

Climate total, 23: ACC + 0

Global warming total 0: ACC + 0

p72 – MS-ESS3 Earth and Human Activity

MS-ESS3-1. Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how the uneven distributions of Earth’s mineral, energy, and groundwater resources are the result of past and current geoscience processes. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on how these resources are limited and typically non-renewable, and how their distributions are significantly changing as a result of removal by humans. Examples of uneven distributions of resources as a result of past processes include but are not limited to petroleum (locations of the burial of organic marine sediments and subsequent geologic traps), metal ores (locations of past volcanic and hydrothermal activity associated with subduction zones), and soil (locations of active weathering and/or deposition of rock).]

MS-ESS3-2. Analyze and interpret data on natural hazards to forecast future catastrophic events and inform the development of technologies to mitigate their effects. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on how some natural hazards, such as volcanic eruptions and severe weather, are preceded by phenomena that allow for reliable predictions, but others, such as earthquakes, occur suddenly and with no notice, and thus are not yet predictable. Examples of natural hazards can be taken from interior processes (such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions), surface processes (such as mass wasting and tsunamis), or severe weather events (such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods). Examples of data can include the locations, magnitudes, and frequencies of the natural hazards. Examples of technologies can be global (such as satellite systems to monitor hurricanes or forest fires) or local (such as building basements in tornado-prone regions or reservoirs to mitigate droughts).]

ESS3.D: Global Climate Change

  • §Human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (Global warming). Reducing the level of climate change and reducing human vulnerability to whatever climate changes do occur depend on the understanding of climate science, engineering capabilities, and other kinds of knowledge, such as understanding of human behavior and on applying that knowledge wisely in decisions and activities. (MS-ESS3-5)

  • §The uses of technologies and any limitations on their use are driven by individual or societal needs, desires, and values; by the findings of scientific research; and by differences in such factors as climate, natural resources, and economic conditions. Thus technology use varies from region to region and over time. (MS-ESS3-2),(MS-ESS3-3)

Weather total 56: ACC + 0

Climate total, 28: ACC + 4

Global warming total 1: ACC + 1

P74 – MS-ETS1 Engineering Design

  • §The uses of technologies and limitations on their use are driven by individual or societal needs, desires, and values; by the findings of scientific research; and by differences in such factors as climate, natural resources, and economic conditions. (MS-ETS1-1)

Total cumulative uses of weather, climate, Global warming

Weather total 56: ACC + 0

Climate total, 29: ACC + 4

Global warming total 1: ACC + 1

Total MS uses of weather, climate, Global warming

Weather total 25: ACC + 0

Climate total, 20: ACC + 4

Global warming total 0: ACC + 0

p79 – High School Earth and Space Sciences

The performance expectations in ESS2: Earth’s Systems, help students formulate an answer to the question: “How and why is Earth constantly changing?” The ESS2 Disciplinary Core Idea from the NRC Framework is broken down into five sub-ideas: Earth materials and systems, plate tectonics and large-scale system interactions, the roles of water in Earth’s surface processes, weather and climate, and biogeology. For the purpose of the NGSS, biogeology has been addressed within the life science standards. Students develop models and explanations for the ways that feedbacks between different Earth systems control the appearance of Earth’s surface. Central to this is the tension between internal systems, which are largely responsible for creating land at Earth’s surface, and the sun-driven surface systems that tear down the land through weathering and erosion. Students begin to examine the ways that human activities cause feedbacks that create changes to other systems. Students understand the system interactions that control weather and climate, with a major emphasis on the mechanisms and implications of climate change. Students model the flow of energy between different components of the weather system and how this affects chemical cycles such as the carbon cycle. The crosscutting concepts of cause and effect, energy and matter, structure and function and stability and change are called out as organizing concepts for these disciplinary core ideas. In the ESS2 performance expectations, students are expected to demonstrate proficiency in developing and using models, planning and carrying out investigations, analyzing and interpreting data, and engaging in argument; and to use these practices to demonstrate understanding of the core ideas.

The performance expectations in ESS3: Earth and Human Activity help students formulate an answer to the question: “How do Earth’s surface processes and human activities affect each other?” The ESS3 Disciplinary Core Idea from the NRC Framework is broken down into four sub-ideas: natural resources, natural hazards, human impact on Earth systems, and global climate change. Students understand the complex and significant interdependencies between humans and the rest of Earth’s systems through the impacts of natural hazards, our dependencies on natural resources, and the significant environmental impacts of human activities. Engineering and technology figure prominently here, as students use mathematical thinking and the analysis of geoscience data to examine and construct solutions to the many challenges facing long-term human sustainability on Earth. The crosscutting concepts of cause and effect, systems and system models, and stability and change are called out as organizing concepts for these disciplinary core ideas. In the ESS3 performance expectations, students are expected to demonstrate proficiency in developing and using analyzing and interpreting data, mathematical and computational thinking, constructing explanations and designing solutions and engaging in argument; and to use these practices to demonstrate understanding of the core ideas.

Weather total 60: ACC + 2

Climate total, 33: ACC + 6

Global warming total 1: ACC + 1

P92-93 – HS-LS2 Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics

HS-LS2-1. Use mathematical and/or computational representations to support explanations of factors that affect carrying capacity of ecosystems at different scales. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on quantitative analysis and comparison of the relationships among interdependent factors including boundaries, resources, climate, and competition. Examples of mathematical comparisons could include graphs, charts, histograms, and population changes gathered from simulations or historical data sets.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include deriving mathematical equations to make comparisons.]

  • § Moreover, anthropogenic changes (induced by human activity) in the environment—including habitat destruction, pollution, introduction of invasive species, overexploitation, and climate change—can disrupt an ecosystem and threaten the survival of some species. (HS-LS2-7)

  • § Humans depend on the living world for the resources and other benefits provided by biodiversity. But human activity is also having adverse impacts on biodiversity through overpopulation, overexploitation, habitat destruction, pollution, introduction of invasive species, and climate change. Thus sustaining biodiversity so that ecosystem functioning and productivity are maintained is essential to supporting and enhancing life on Earth. Sustaining biodiversity also aids humanity by preserving landscapes of recreational or inspirational value. (secondary to HS-LS2-7) (Note: This Disciplinary Core Idea is also addressed by HS-LS4-6.)

Weather total 60: ACC + 2

Climate total, 36: ACC + 8

Global warming total 1: ACC + 1

P95-96 – HS-LS4 Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity

HS-LS4-4. Construct an explanation based on evidence for how natural selection leads to adaptation of populations. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on using data to provide evidence for how specific biotic and abiotic differences in ecosystems (such as ranges of seasonal temperature, long-term climate change, acidity, light, geographic barriers, or evolution of other organisms) contribute to a change in gene frequency over time, leading to adaptation of populations.]

While this use of climate change could refer to human caused change, it could also refer to changes such as evolution of mammoths and mastodons during ice ages. Scored as unrelated.

LS4.D: Biodiversity and Humans

  • § Humans depend on the living world for the resources and other benefits provided by biodiversity. But human activity is also having adverse impacts on biodiversity through overpopulation, overexploitation, habitat destruction, pollution, introduction of invasive species, and climate change. Thus sustaining biodiversity so that ecosystem functioning and productivity are maintained is essential to supporting and enhancing life on Earth. Sustaining biodiversity also aids humanity by preserving landscapes of recreational or inspirational value. (HS-LS4-6) (Note: This Disciplinary Core Idea is also addressed by HS-LS2-7.)

Weather total 60: ACC + 2

Climate total, 38: ACC + 8

Global warming total 1: ACC + 1

p97 – HS-ESS1 Earth’s Place in the Universe

HS-ESS1-1. Develop a model based on evidence to illustrate the life span of the sun and the role of nuclear fusion in the sun’s core to release energy that eventually reaches Earth in the form of radiation. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on the energy transfer mechanisms that allow energy from nuclear fusion in the sun’s core to reach Earth. Examples of evidence for the model include observations of the masses and lifetimes of other stars, as well as the ways that the sun’s radiation varies due to sudden solar flares (“space weather”), the 11-year sunspot cycle, and non-cyclic variations over centuries.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include details of the atomic and sub-atomic processes involved with the sun’s nuclear fusion.]

Weather total 61: ACC + 2

Climate total, 38: ACC + 8

Global warming total 1: ACC + 1

p99-100 – HS-ESS2 Earth’s Systems

HS-ESS2-1. Develop a model to illustrate how Earth’s internal and surface processes operate at different spatial and temporal scales to form continental and ocean-floor features. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on how the appearance of land features (such as mountains, valleys, and plateaus) and sea-floor features (such as trenches, ridges, and seamounts) are a result of both constructive forces (such as volcanism, tectonic uplift, and orogeny) and destructive mechanisms (such as weathering, mass wasting, and coastal erosion).] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include memorization of the details of the formation of specific geographic features of Earth’s surface.]

HS-ESS2-2. Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth’s surface can create feedbacks that cause changes to other Earth systems. [Clarification Statement: Examples should include climate feedbacks, such as how an increase in greenhouse gases causes a rise in global temperatures that melts glacial ice, which reduces the amount of sunlight reflected from Earth’s surface, increasing surface temperatures and further reducing the amount of ice. Examples could also be taken from other system interactions, such as how the loss of ground vegetation causes an increase in water runoff and soil erosion; how dammed rivers increase groundwater recharge, decrease sediment transport, and increase coastal erosion; or how the loss of wetlands causes a decrease in local humidity that further reduces the wetland extent.]

HS-ESS2-4. Use a model to describe how variations in the flow of energy into and out of Earth’s systems result in changes in climate. [Clarification Statement: Examples of the causes of climate change differ by timescale, over 1-10 years: large volcanic eruption, ocean circulation; 10-100s of years: changes in human activity, ocean circulation, solar output; 10-100s of thousands of years: changes to Earth’s orbit and the orientation of its axis; and 10-100s of millions of years: long-term changes in atmospheric composition.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment of the results of changes in climate is limited to changes in surface temperatures, precipitation patterns, glacial ice volumes, sea levels, and biosphere distribution.]

HS-ESS2-5. Plan and conduct an investigation of the properties of water and its effects on Earth materials and surface processes. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on mechanical and chemical investigations with water and a variety of solid materials to provide the evidence for connections between the hydrologic cycle and system interactions commonly known as the rock cycle. Examples of mechanical investigations include stream transportation and deposition using a stream table, erosion using variations in soil moisture content, or frost wedging by the expansion of water as it freezes. Examples of chemical investigations include chemical weathering and recrystallization (by testing the solubility of different materials) or melt generation (by examining how water lowers the melting temperature of most solids).]

HS-ESS2-7. Construct an argument based on evidence about the simultaneous coevolution of Earth’s systems and life on Earth. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on the dynamic causes, effects, and feedbacks between the biosphere and Earth’s other systems, whereby geoscience factors control the evolution of life, which in turn continuously alters Earth’s surface. Examples of include how photosynthetic life altered the atmosphere through the production of oxygen, which in turn increased weathering rates and allowed for the evolution of animal life; how microbial life on land increased the formation of soil, which in turn allowed for the evolution of land plants; or how the evolution of corals created reefs that altered patterns of erosion and deposition along coastlines and provided habitats for the evolution of new life forms.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include a comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms of how the biosphere interacts with all of Earth’s other systems.]

  • § Cyclical changes in the shape of Earth’s orbit around the sun, together with changes in the tilt of the planet’s axis of rotation, both occurring over hundreds of thousands of years, have altered the intensity and distribution of sunlight falling on the earth. These phenomena cause a cycle of ice ages and other gradual climate changes. (secondary to HS-ESS2-4)

  • The geological record shows that changes to global and regional climate can be caused by interactions among changes in the sun’s energy output or Earth’s orbit, tectonic events, ocean circulation, volcanic activity, glaciers, vegetation, and human activities. These changes can occur on a variety of time scales from sudden (e.g., volcanic ash clouds) to intermediate (ice ages) to very long-term tectonic cycles. (HS-ESS2-4)

ESS2.D: Weather and Climate

  • § The foundation for Earth’s global climate systems is the electromagnetic radiation from the sun, as well as its reflection, absorption, storage, and redistribution among the atmosphere, ocean, and land systems, and this energy’s re-radiation into space. (HS-ESS2-2),(HS-ESS2-4)
  • § Gradual atmospheric changes were due to plants and other organisms that captured carbon dioxide and released oxygen. (HS-ESS2-6),(HS-ESS2-7)
  • § Changes in the atmosphere due to human activity have increased carbon dioxide concentrations and thus affect climate. (HS-ESS2-6),(HS-ESS2-4)

Weather total 65: ACC + 2

Climate total, 46: ACC + 13

Global warming total 1: ACC + 1

P101 – HS-ESS3 Earth and Human Activity

HS-ESS3-1. Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity. [Clarification Statement: Examples of key natural resources include access to fresh water (such as rivers, lakes, and groundwater), regions of fertile soils such as river deltas, and high concentrations of minerals and fossil fuels. Examples of natural hazards can be from interior processes (such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes), surface processes (such as tsunamis, mass wasting and soil erosion), and severe weather (such as hurricanes, floods, and droughts). Examples of the results of changes in climate that can affect populations or drive mass migrations include changes to sea level, regional patterns of temperature and precipitation, and the types of crops and livestock that can be raised.]

HS-ESS3-5. Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth systems. [Clarification Statement: Examples of evidence, for both data and climate model outputs, are for climate changes (such as precipitation and temperature) and their associated impacts (such as on sea level, glacial ice volumes, or atmosphere and ocean composition).] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to one example of a climate change and its associated impacts.]

ESS2.D: Weather and Climate

  • § Current models predict that, although future regional climate changes will be complex and varied, average global temperatures will continue to rise. The outcomes predicted by global climate models strongly depend on the amounts of human-generated greenhouse gases added to the atmosphere each year and by the ways in which these gases are absorbed by the ocean and biosphere. (secondary to HS-ESS3-6)

ESS3.D: Global Climate Change

  • § Though the magnitudes of human impacts are greater than they have ever been, so too are human abilities to model, predict, and manage current and future impacts. (HS-ESS3-5)
  • § Through computer simulations and other studies, important discoveries are still being made about how the ocean, the atmosphere, and the biosphere interact and are modified in response to human activities. (HS-ESS3-6)

(I chose to rate references to climate change altering where humans live (HS-ESS3-1) as not specifically being related to ACC as there are many historical examples of climate changes that led to populations  migrating in or out of regions, such as the greening and later desertification of the Sahara during a period of time referred to as the “neolithic subpluvial”. In this case I am using people for my example of a population, as “population” refers to members of the same species living in the same place during a period of time. The same standard could be used to describe the migration of a species of mammoth during an ice age.)

Total cumulative uses of weather, climate, global warming

Weather total 67: ACC + 2

Climate total, 56: ACC + 22

Global warming total 1: ACC + 1

Total HS uses of weather, climate, global warming

Weather total 11: ACC + 2

Climate total, 27: ACC + 18

Global warming total 0: ACC + 0

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About Robert Bevins

I am a toxicologist/cell biologist, and am preparing a downloadable study guide for biology students, and in the past have taught at Georgetown College as both part time and full time faculty. The views expressed here are my own.
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