Session S24a (Monday, 9:30am, Thomas 201)

P168: General chemistry students' understanding of climate science principles relating to chemistry

Ashley Versprille (Purdue University, USA), Mary Kirchhoff (American Chemical Society, USA), Peter Mahaffy (The King’s University College, Canada), Lallie McKenzie (Chem11, LLC, USA), Marcy Towns (Purdue University, USA)

As part of the NSF funded Visualizing the Chemistry of Climate Science project, we are developing the chemistry of climate science inventory for use in general chemistry courses. The U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP), which integrates federal research on climate and global change, has set out a climate literacy framework, Climate Literacy: the Essential Principles of Climate Science (US Climate Change Science Program, 2009). Developed by collaboration among NOAA, NASA, AAAS, and a distinguished group of scientists and educators, this Framework defines a set of essential principles and scientific thinking skills that a climate literate person should understand. We have based our interview protocol on misconceptions identified in the research literature and the essential principles of climate change outlined in the CCSP document that pertain to chemistry. We have interviewed 24 undergraduates to elicit their understanding of the Earth’s energy system, global warming, climate change, greenhouse gases, climate, and weather. Our analysis and findings indicate that the fundamental science necessary to understand the Earth’s energy system and climate change are not well understood by the undergraduates in this sample. Details of the interviews, analysis, and synthesis of findings will be shared.


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