Climate Change from Pole to Pole: Biology Investigations.
Article Type: Book review
Subject: Books (Book reviews)
Author: Goodman, Billy
Pub Date: 02/01/2010
Publication: Name: The American Biology Teacher Publisher: National Association of Biology Teachers Audience: Academic; Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Biological sciences; Education Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 National Association of Biology Teachers ISSN: 0002-7685
Issue: Date: Feb, 2010 Source Volume: 72 Source Issue: 2
Topic: NamedWork: Climate Change from Pole to Pole: Biology Investigations (Nonfiction work)
Persons: Reviewee: Constible, Juanita; Sandro, Luke; Lee, Richard E. , Jr.
Accession Number: 245037738
Full Text: Climate Change from Pole to Pole: Biology Investigations. By Juanita Constible, Luke Sandro, and Richard E. Lee, Jr. 2008. NSTA Press (ISBN 978-1-933531-23-6). 238 pages. Paperback. $29.95 (members $23.96).

We've all had the experience of finding activities online or in books that, upon close examination, fell down in one or more key areas. Maybe there wasn't enough background, or it wasn't sophisticated enough, for the teachers. Maybe the activities were wrong for the intended age group, or left too many gaps in the students' instructions (or, conversely, provided instructions that left no room for creativity or thought for the students). Maybe the work was unrealistic or required equipment that's unavailable in many schools.

Climate Change from Pole to Pole succeeds in all these areas. For high school and college teachers who are already using or experimenting with inquiry methods, this book provides six investigations that are mostly group-oriented and help students connect climate change with real ecological and human health impacts. If you are not already familiar with inquiry methods and facilitating group work, a couple of these investigations are well suited to get you started; the others may require more experience to implement successfully.

The book's first four chapters summarize the science of climate change. Beginning with the basics of climate, these chapters cover the greenhouse effect, the methods scientists use to study climate, and the evidence pointing to both a changing climate and the influences of human and natural forcings. One chapter covers the biological effects of climate change. These chapters provide good background and useful references. Some of the latter may be difficult for high school teachers to retrieve without a convenient college library, but several online resources are cited (and the URLs worked!).

One complaint: some of the figures used in these chapters are confusing, or fail to work well with their captions. For example, it's hard to distinguish stippled and nonstippled arrows on the black-and-white diagram of Earth's energy balance, and the accompanying text is unclear.

Six chapters referred to as "case studies" compose the heart of the book. Each chapter is split in two, with comprehensive teacher pages first, followed by reproducible student pages. The teacher pages are uniformly useful, addressing necessary prior knowledge, procedures and materials, rubrics and assessment suggestions, and modifications.

The activities cover a good mix of subjects: four are mainly ecological, using penguins, polar bears, wolves, and flycatchers to investigate subjects such as the timing of phenological events and the role of predators in ecosystems. The chapter on wolves and their impact on carrion supply in Yellowstone National Park introduces mathematical modeling and is quite sophisticated--probably Advanced Placement level or above. Another chapter provides data to help students learn to distinguish correlation and cause. All the chapters involve some data analysis.

The last two chapters focus on how climate change may affect human health. Students are guided to look at data involving pollen allergies and heat-related mortality. The suggested student products for these investigations are realistic and challenging: a poster, website, video or other public communication, and a research report.

Students are interested and concerned about climate change. This book is a boon for teachers who want to incorporate more active, group-oriented activities into their classrooms.

DOI: 10.1525/abt.2010.72.2.14

Billy Goodman

AP Environmental Science

Passaic Valley High School

Little Falls, NJ 07424
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2010 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.