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International Journal of Environmental and Science Education, v4 n4 p441-447 Oct 2009

Global warming and climate change have become hot topics that incite debate, inspire scientific research, and influence international policy. However, the scientific research that provides the past climate and environmental information upon which contemporary environmental change is measured, receives little attention in high school curriculum. Paleoecology, the study of ancient ecosystems, provides a unifying theme for teaching multiple high school science curriculum concepts involving global environmental change. As a teaching tool, paleoecology establishes a framework linking concepts such as geologic time, climate change, adaptation, survival, extinction, human impact and ecological interactions that are often taught separately. This article provides a brief overview of how the science of paleoecology can be introduced to students and incorporated into the curriculum through simple activities. The activities outlined here include using elevation maps or Gazetteers to investigate potential sites where marine fossils may be found far from the ocean, using multiple biological proxies to measure climate change, and creating models to demonstrate the impact of sea level rise on coastal ecosystems. These activities provide numerous opportunities for the students to discuss the scientific research associated with climate change, the economic impacts of changing climate, and how science may influence policy regarding climate change mitigation. (Contains 1 figure and 1 table.)

Descriptors: Scientific Research, Paleontology, Educational Change, Climate, Public Policy, Secondary School Curriculum, Science Curriculum, Science Instruction, Scientific Concepts, Environmental Education, Teaching Methods, Models, Ecology, Maps, Resource Materials, Reference Materials, Geography, High School Students

International Consortium for the Advancement of Academic Publication. Abant Izzet Baysal University, Faculty of Education, 14280 Golkoy-Bolu, Turkey. e-mail: editorijese[at]; Web site:

Autor: Raper, Diana J.; Zander, Holli


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