Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Students are asked to explore the concept of scepticism in science by looking at a range of statements from climate change sceptics and scientists. They are asked to analyse these statements and make judgements around the positions of the authors of these statements, and to make judgements around the motivations behind them. Students are then asked to create their own statements around climate change.

Learning goals:

  • Students understand that scepticism is an important part of all scientific debates, including climate change.
  • Students understand that there is a lively debate around the causes and effects of climate change.
  • Students recognise that when evaluating statements about scientific topics we must be aware of the motivations behind these positions.

General capabilities: Critical and creative thinking, Literacy, Ethical understanding.

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability OI.2.

Australian Curriculum content description:

Year 9 Science

  • Scientific understanding, including models and theories, are contestable and are refined over time through a process of review by the scientific community (ACSHE157)
  • People can use scientific knowledge to evaluate whether they should accept claims, explanations or predictions (ACSHE160)
  • Evaluate conclusions, including identifying sources of uncertainty and possible alternative explanations, and describe specific ways to improve the quality of the data (ACSIS171)
  • Critically analyse the validity of information in secondary sources and evaluate the approaches used to solve problems (ACSIS172)
  • Communicate scientific ideas and information for a particular purpose, including constructing evidence-based arguments and using appropriate scientific language, conventions and representations (ACSIS174)

Year 9 English

  • Interpret, analyse and evaluate how different perspectives of issue, event, situation, individuals or groups are constructed to serve specific purposes in texts (ACELY1742)
  • Use comprehension strategies to interpret and analyse texts, comparing and evaluating representations of an event, issue, situation or character in different texts (ACELY1744)
  • Create imaginative, informative and persuasive texts that present a point of view and advance or illustrate arguments, including texts that integrate visual, print and/or audio features (ACELY1746)

Year 10 Science

  • Scientific understanding, including models and theories, are contestable and are refined over time through a process of review by the scientific community (ACSHE191)
  • People can use scientific knowledge to evaluate whether they should accept claims, explanations or predictions (ACSHE194)
  • Use knowledge of scientific concepts to draw conclusions that are consistent with evidence (ACSIS204)
  • Critically analyse the validity of information in secondary sources and evaluate the approaches used to solve problems (ACSIS206)
  • Communicate scientific ideas and information for a particular purpose, including constructing evidence-based arguments and using appropriate scientific language, conventions and representations (ACSIS208)

Year 10 English

  • Analyse and evaluate how people, cultures, places, events, objects and concepts are represented in texts, including media texts, through language, structural and/or visual choices (ACELY1749)
  • Identify and analyse implicit or explicit values, beliefs and assumptions in texts and how these are influenced by purposes and likely audiences (ACELY1752)
  • Use comprehension strategies to compare and contrast information within and between texts, identifying and analysing embedded perspectives, and evaluating supporting evidence (ACELY1754)
  • Create sustained texts, including texts that combine specific digital or media content, for imaginative, informative, or persuasive purposes that reflect upon challenging and complex issues (ACELY1756)

Syllabus outcomesSC5-12ES, SC5-13ES, SC5-7WS, SC5-8WS, SC5-9WSEN5-1A, EN5-2A, EN5-8D

Topic: Climate change

Time required: 48 mins

Level of teacher scaffolding: Low – oversee activity.

Resources required: Internet access, student worksheet.

Digital technology opportunities: Digital sharing capabilities.

Homework and extension opportunities: Includes opportunities for extension or homework.

Keywords: Climate change, scepticism, denial, evidence, science.

 

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.

Worksheets

Teacher Worksheet

Teacher preparation:

Overarching learning goal: Students will understand that scepticism is an important part of all scientific debates, including climate change. Students will learn that there is already a lively debate around the causes and effects of climate change but that when evaluating statements about scientific topics - including climate change - we must be aware of the motivations behind these positions.

Teacher content information: Scepticism in science is healthy and is an important part of creating rigour in science. Scientists should always challenge themselves and be challenged to improve their understanding of the issue they are studying. Scepticism in science is a good thing.

However, in some cases, personal and commercial interests and opinions enter the scientific debate and lead to a situation where the science can be overlooked or simply denied. These cases remain contentious and require considerable effort on behalf of the scientific community to communicate th

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Student Worksheet

Thought starter: Why is scepticism a good thing?

Read the following statements about climate change and global warming and decide whether the author is a denier, is sceptical about the science, or accepts the science. Explain your reasoning (tip: you should also look at what organisations these authors represent):

1. “We only understand 10 percent of the climate issue. That is not enough to wreck the world with Kyoto-like climate change measures” (Henk Tennekes, former research director, Dutch Meteorological Institute).

 

2. “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic GHG concentrations. It is likely that there has been significant anthropogenic warming over the past 50 years averaged over each continent (except Antarctica)” (International Panel for Climate Change).

 

3. “The scientific evidence is now overwhelming: climate change is a serious global threat, and it demand

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