Climate systems educators toolkit to be unveiled at Purdue environmental conference

April 25, 2013  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University researchers will unveil a learning toolkit for educators about a climate system approach to understanding how the Earth's climate is changing in connection with a three-day conference on campus in May.

The Dynamics of Climate, scheduled for May 15-17, will include panel discussions on climate change and a keynote lecture by David Archer, a professor of geophysical sciences at the University of Chicago and a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union.

"The toolkit is designed to give a basic but a timely and important understanding about climate from a climate systems perspective," said conference co-organizer Dan Shepardson, a Purdue professor of curriculum and instruction and earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences. "This will be a helpful resource for teachers and professional educators, with content geared especially for educating middle school and high school students."

The conference will be held in Discovery Park's Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship and Mann Hall. The deadline to register for the three-day event is May 1. The National Science Foundation, Purdue Climate Change Research Center, Center for the Environment and the Indiana State Climate Office are lead sponsors.

A $25 fee will be required to cover meals and materials including a digital version of the Dynamics of Climate professional development toolkit and a copy of the award-winning 2006 book, "Atlas of Climate Change."

To register for the conference, go to: For more information, contact Peggy Favorite, Purdue Global Sustainability Institute, 765-494-6814,

The unveiling of the educator toolkit coincides with the National Research Council's release of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), marking the culmination of a three-year, multiphase process.

Dan Shepardson

Dan Shepardson 
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Shepardson said the National Science Education Standards, updated for the first time since 1996 by the work of a 26-state consortium, provide a detailed description of the key scientific ideas and practices that all students should learn by the time they graduate from high school, specifically concepts related to global warming and climate change.

Indiana State Climatologist Dev Niyogi, a Purdue agronomy and earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences associate professor, said the toolkit utilizes climate datasets and activities to develop understanding of climate. Small group and individual activities require participants to interpret, analyze and represent climatic data and use scientific concepts to explain climate events.

"Sessions will take participants through the implementation of the professional development toolkit," said Niyogi, conference co-organizer. "Our goal is to provide teachers in grades K-12 with a framework for developing curriculum and learning activities around a climate system approach to understanding how the Earth's climate is changing."

The toolkit includes a professional development program manual; a PowerPoint presentation with video clips and talking points; and a presenter's guide that details the talking points, video clips and instructional activities. Handouts will offer visuals and datasets for instructional activities and programs; a teacher's guide for climate system instruction; and an administrative packet for implementing a professional development program in climate education.

Matt Huber, director of the Purdue Climate Change Research Center and a professor of earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences, will provide welcome remarks at 1:30 p.m. May 15.

Day one presentations will address "Climate Education, the Next Generation Science Standards and Professional Development," and "Midwest Climate: Past, Present and Future" and the "Climate Continuum and Climate System."

Archer will kick off day two with his keynote at 9:15-10:30 a.m., May 16, in the Burton Morgan Center, Room 121.

David Archier

David Archier 
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Archer is known for his research on the Earth's carbon cycle and its interaction with global climate. He also has written a series of books on climate change including "Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast," a text for non-science major undergraduates now in second edition, and "The Long Thaw: How Humans are Changing the Next 100,000 Years of Earth's Climate." He also teaches classes on global warming, environmental chemistry, and global biogeochemical cycles, and is a regular contributor to the climate science blog site

Following Archer's lecture, parallel breakout discussions will include "A Changing Climate" and "Greenhouse Gases, Greenhouse Effect, Carbon Cycle and Earth's Energy Budget" from 10:45 a.m. to noon and again from 12:30-1:45 p.m. in Burton Morgan Center, Rooms 206 and 129, respectively.

A climate panel discussion will follow from 2-3:15 p.m., featuring Purdue professors Otto Doering, agricultural economics; Linda Prokopy, forestry and natural resources; and Leigh Raymond, political science; and Huber.

Joining professor Shepardson and Niyogi in developing the toolkit from Purdue are doctoral student Olivia Kellner, graduate research assistant Ian Pope and extension educator Hans Schmitz. Other contributors are National Weather Service meteorologist Adam Baker in Indianapolis, naturalist Mary Cutler of the Tippecanoe County Parks and Recreation Department; science teacher Mark Koschmann of St. John's Lutheran School in Midland, Mich.; former science teacher Ted Leuenberger of Benton Jr./Sr. High School; and Jan Sneddon, director of the Indiana Earth Force and president of the Environmental Education Association of Indiana. 

Writer: Phillip Fiorini, 765-496-3133,

Sources: Dan Shepardson, 765-494-5284,     

Dev Niyogi, 765-494-6574,

Related websites: 

College of Education

Discovery Park

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