Develop Critical Thinking Skills by Evaluating Sources of Information (DSTSESI)

Discussion Questions related to Climate Change and Global Warming:

June 2, 2019

Economic Issues

What are some important underlying challenges and developments related to affordable battery storage of electricity?

What technological innovations are needed to address the Climate Change in a timely manner?

What government actions related to Taxation and Regulations would be helpful in addressing Climate Change?

How are Wind Turbines developing into a second source of income for Iowa’s farmers?

How widely spread can the concept be expanded for multiple uses of our surface land as well as the resources that are mined?

What benefits would a carbon tax provide for our efforts to repair Climate Change and our problems related to issue?

What is meant by a “cap-and-trade” program?

What is meant by “private enterprise”?

Why is it necessary to examine both “costs” and “net value benefits” to developing new technologies?

The “Energy Burden” for low-income families is three times greater than for the rest of the country. Why does this exist?

What are the heating fuels available to families? What are the most expensive heating fuels?

What does it mean to have a “more” or “less” efficient furnace in your home?

What is meant by “economy wide” industrial competitiveness?

What is included in the concept of solar capacity?

How do “renewables” work in our nation’s energy system?

Why are these concepts so integral to the Green New Deal? energy efficiency, competitiveness and jobs, national security, community choice, health and environment, equity and innovation, market-driven Green New Deal

What is so powerful about an “Insurgent Entrepreneur? And “The Private Sector”?

Underlying Climate Issues

How does a greenhouse work to increase the temperature inside of the structure? Why are greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide and methane in particular) labeled with these name descriptors?

What is being (and has been) burned to produce energy for electricity production, transportation, agriculture, industrial production and other human activities? How are these changes threatening the stability of the earth’s climate? How has this changed through the past several hundred years?

What are important variables related to the environment, weather and climate?

What threats are presented to the climate in the form of the thawing of the permafrost and the related release of methane gas?

What is being (and has been) burned to produce energy? How has this changed through the past several hundred years?

Why is the loss of sea ice such a significant issues related to global warming?

What is included in “Greenhouse Gas Emissions”?

How can we improve the energy efficiency of our buildings?

Hopeful Future Trends

How much can the process of Photosynthesis, and it’s massive existence in forests on continents and in the collection of algae in the oceans, contribution to the reduction of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?

What is meant by “Clean Energy”?

What are “renewables” in the energy issue?

What are the renewables in the energy market place?

What are the “flexible resources” in the energy picture?

What is meant by a flexible grid?

Why is our Federal Government able to produce breakthroughs in technological development?

What is meant by creating a clean low-carbon energy future? Why is this so important to The Green New Deal?

Underlying Problems

What are the issues of heat trapping gas emissions in our modern societies and developing societies and how are they related to Climate Change?

What is meant by “Climate Change”? How is Climate distinct from Weather?

Why is modern Agricultural Production and Heavy Industry such a significant problem related to Climate Change?

What are some significant climate related problems concerning our modern agricultural processes?

Why are Nuclear Power Plants considered a problem in our modern societies even though they produce no greenhouse gases?

What problems are surfacing related to the Hydroelectric Power Industry?

What is meant by “exporting our emissions”?

Energy Issues

What are the Natural Resources that support our modern lives?

What human activities consume energy and in what forms is it used? What can human societies do to reduce their consumption of energy?

Does it matter as to what source of energy we use in our daily lives?

Why is Natural Gas the preferred carbon energy resource?

Why is coal such a bad source of energy for the production of electricity?

What is included in the concept of the electric grid?

Individual Actions to Take to Address Climate Change

What can an individual do on a daily basis that will significantly contribute to an improvement in Climate Change?

Will reducing the consumption of material goods help correct the problems behind Climate Change?

Do we eat too much meat? Will a change to a much less meat oriented diet help correct the issues behind Climate Change?

What foods should we try to base our diet on that will not continue to the issues of Climate Change?

Why are “Feed Lots” so destructive to the Climate, to the health of people residing in the region of the Feed Lot, and to the health of the population in general?

With the chaotic state in many societies world wide related to poverty, unemployment, hunger, ill health (both physical and mental) and other destructive personal issues, how can a localize political and social group of concerned individuals contribute in a positive way to addressing issues related to Climate Change?

Resources for DCTSESI: PBS Science and Nature Videos and my Blog (www.sciencewonder.org)

Randy Sweeney  (January, 2016)

I have been working with PBS science and nature programming for many years, both with the growth and development of my own children, and as a science teacher in LAUSD. Working with PBS in our home I’ve seen my children become a neuroscientist and economist, and my students at LAUSD began to think more critically about the larger world in which they exist. I adapted the Harvard developed “See Think Wonder” approach to my instruction and it is through this avenue that I incorporated the PBS videos into my instruction. Shortly after my retirement from teaching, I began the development of my blog www.sciencewonder.org, where I organized the PBS videos into subject areas categories, and provided links to other interesting resources. Currently the blog facilitates smart phone access to PBS Science and Nature programming. It includes titles, and in some cases descriptions of programs that no longer are available through the internet but could be purchased if there is a particularly interested in that subject.

The blog serves as a valuable resource in a science curriculum. Beyond that, it focuses on and extends my involvement with science education to include the Critical Analysis of the Source(s) of Information. In particular it serves to build an understanding of world in which we reside. This critical analysis, I define as Develop Critical Thinking Skills by Evaluating Sources of Information (DCTSESI). It is a sad reality that our National discourse regularly questions the validity of science, and many people seem to feel they can interpret scientific facts to serve their own personal interests. The Scientific Method is certainly still the most powerful tool in our modern society, as is Peer Review in evaluating the quality and reliability of information (Facts) gained through scientific investigation. The critical analysis of information on which we based the decisions we make on a daily basis is the most important issue we could address in education in our modern world. The Internet, where floods of “information” are available, but lots of it is of very questionable quality and validity, often serves to confuse a young mind’s effort to sort out their life’s options and build a future based on factual reality. In the future, science students will certainly be asked to describe and discuss the evidence that justifies their position in thought that they are taking as a result of an experience or presentation of a situation. It is this critical analysis of information and ideas that is the most important component of becoming educated, and should be at the center of any educational process. PBS Science and Nature videos can communicate important ideas based on a high quality factual reality. They can provide virtual experiences of the natural world and how it operates that can be used by anyone to build their knowledge base about science and nature.

The following is a brief overview of how I might structure a unit of instruction and interact with a class of students:

Goal 1:  Students develop an understanding of the Scientific Method.

Goal 2:  Students become aware of the difference between good and bad resource material.

Goal 3:  Students develop skills in observing, thinking, questioning and wondering about issues presented in research information.

Step 1: In day one, after reviewing the Scientific Method,  an assignment would be structured with the students where they would be tasked with finding both good quality and poor quality information related to an important current issue in our society, for example The Acidification of the Earth’s Oceans.

Step 2:  The students look up the Scientific Method (in Wikipedia), and describe the process in their own words.  They should study the graphic in Wikipedia.

Step 3: Through a period of several weeks, I would meet with the students, possibly in a seminar format once or twice a week, where we would discuss the quality of information students were able to uncover about Ocean Acidification, where they found this information, and what they felt were good quality resources as well as the sources they felt were of poor quality.   Students should also reflect on why they made these distinctions.  References would be analyzed related to sites they felt were reliable as well as references for information they felt was of questionable quality. We would discuss the quality of information they found in the sources, and how a person could go about verifying the validity of this information.

Step 4: At the conclusion of Step 3 meetings, I would assign one (or several) PBS online videos that they could access with their cell phones using my blog (www.sciencewonder.org), and  Related to Ocean Acidification, the following NOVA would be assigned:

PBS Video Link on Ocean Acidification:  NOVA – Lethal Seas 

Click Here to View Program

After enough time has elapsed for the students to have watched the program(s), we would gather together again to discuss what they have learned in the video(s) about the subject, and the quality of the information in the PBS programs.

Step 5: Each student would conclude their work with the writing of a paper in which they described what they have learned about the subject of focus (Ocean Acidification) as well as what they have learned about the quality of resources related to the subject, both good and bad, and the understanding of the subject they had developed from their research.

Front Page:


At Science Wonder Sweeney is in the process of developing a program to Develop Critical Thinking Skills by Evaluating Sources of Information  (DCTSESI).   It is a sad reality that our National discourse regularly questions the validity of science, many people seem to feel they can interpret scientific facts to serve their own personal interests. The Scientific Method is certainly still the most powerful tool in our modern society, as is Peer Review in evaluating the quality and reliability of information (Facts) gained through scientific investigations.  The focus for student involvement in this first activity is Ocean Acidification.  Following this work, or replacing it if a more controversial subject is desired, students could research brain injury from contact sports.  Students will be tasked with finding information on this issue that they feel is of good quality as well as finding information that they feel is of poor quality. Sweeney and the students will gather from time to time to discuss the sources of information that the students have found.  After this research Sweeney will have the students view Lethal Seas, and afterwards Sweeney and the students can reflect on the quality of information in this PBS program.  A student’s work will conclude with a paper exploring what the student has learned about Ocean Acidification and what constitutes a good quality source of information.  In the future Sweeney and the students will address other important issues.

PBS Video Link on Ocean Acidification:  NOVA – Lethal Seas

Click Here to View Program

PBS Video Link on Brain Injury from Contact Sports:

FRONTLINE – League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis

Click Here to View Program

The Process (an out-of-date process)

How to Get Involved, An Overview of the Process. (I will use this procedure when I actually begin to get involved with students in a more formal structure.  I haven’t begun this as of November, 2013.  Randy)

1. Science Wonder will focus on a particular PBS Science or Nature program over a period of 2 weeks. Visitors to the blog should register with the blog so they can interact with other people who have viewed the PBS Science program and are thinking about the same scientific issues. This interactive process where you share your ideas about the science issues raised in the PBS programs should be both fun and educational.

2. Participants should access the featured PBS science program which is available online through a link in a tab above titled: “Featured Science Video”

3. After viewing the online video, participants should write out a brief description of what they now WONDER that they were not wondering prior to viewing the video.

4. We encourage participants to post their thoughts in the blog during the 1st week of the 2 week cycle. These posts should reflect how the program has made the participant wonder about the developments in science raised in the video presentation.

5. What will make this experience particularly valuable and interesting is the interaction that participants have with one another, what they feel about what others have written about the program, how it has changed the way they think about the scientific issues raised in the video and what the program has made wonder that they were not wondering about prior to seeing the video.

6. At the conclusion of the 2 week cycle, participants are encouraged to summarize what they have learned from their involvement within Science Wonder blog. Your thoughts about how you’ve grown in an awareness of science issues and the wisdom you’ve gained through interaction with this blog should be written within the Reflections Page.

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