The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Global Warming site is an incredibly comprehensive database containing information pertaining to impact of climate changes due to greenhouse emissions.It is divided into sections on Climate, Emissions, Impacts, Actions, Resource Center, News and Events, Where You Live locality based information), and a Visitor's Center. The site's homepage offers links for educators, small businesses, concerned citizens, industry, health professionals, coastal areas, public officals, international,meterologists, and outdoor enthusiasts. Background scientific data to support the conclusion on the site is referenced. Each one of these links takes the user to a page with additonal links pertaining to the chosen topic. The information provided is comprehensive and current and each link contains a search function. There is also a "kids" link that provides information and activities suitable for elementary school children.
There are no stated learning goals. The Educators link provides links to calculators, animations, interactive activities, and case studies that could easily be incorporated into lesson plans. However, there are no objectives nor assessment tools included. The Visitor's Center is also intended to inform the public about global warming.
Target Student Population:
There really is not a target student population. This site could be useful for students of all levels. The Kid's Corner link is suitable for younger students, including general information, animations, and games. Middle school through college students could benefit from the information in the database. However, it would require well a designed lesson plan in order to help students navigate the wealth of available information. College students(undergrade and graduate)may find this site useful as a research tool.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
The site is designed to be accessible to a wide range of users. Use of web browser will be required.
Type of Material:
This site is a database of current information, legislation, and environmental impacts of global warming. However, it does offer interactive GHG calculators, games and animations. It has aspects of both a tutorial as well as a collection/data base.
The material should be used to introduce green house emissions and global warming. The links to personal GHG calculators make for a good personalized hands on learning experience. In addition to the scientific explanations,
students can explore the local, national, and international impacts, and the legislation being proposed to control emissions.
Basic site requires only current internet browser. Micromedia Flash version 5 is needed to run the animations.
Evaluation and Observation
The homepage is well organized and user friendly.
Comprehensive database with current, functional links.
Extensive information on most topics related to global warming for a wide variety of audiences from schools to concerned citizens.
The information is presented at an easy to understand level without compromising the underlying science. This approach makes the site accessable to students at all levels.
Information presented is referenced to sources.
The Resource Center provides lists of and links to supporting documentation, sources, and funding.
The News and Events section helps keep users current.
Visitor Center provides information broken out by interest or occupation
The kids corner link has well done animations and games that would really appeal to younger students.
Very few assessement opportunities or lesson plan/curriculum development available through the site. However, educators can order Activity kits and tool kits through the site.
There is little interactivity on site pages.
There is little information about those who do not believe the data supports the conclusions of this site.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The organization of the material makes the site easy to navigate. Each link does not open a new page, so it is easy to get back to where you started from.
Students could be assigned specific topics to research based on the available links.
Topics available cover the entire range of issues that concern this important issue.
The side bars present on each page identify other relevant links.
The Educators section provides educators with both information and suggestions on how to integrate site into curriculum; the links database is searchable for lesson plans and toolkits.
The Kids Site also has excellent animations intended for grades 5-9 but probably useable at other levels.
The publications page provides a toolkit for educators with case studies,
interactive activities, trail talks and cards
Material is current and relevent.
The link to Inside the Greenhouse, the EPA's quarterly publication allows teachers and students full access to the publication archives (back to 1997). This could provide a great opportunity to develop a comparative, Now and Then, lesson plan.
Self tests are scattered throughout the site for the user to check comprehension of material.
The are few assessment opportunities.
Specific assignments may be needed to focus younger students as the amount of material can be overwhelming.
Teachers would need to provide detailed assignments in order to keep students on taks and help them to navigate all of the available information.
Specific learning objectives were not found on the site; they would help teachers determine how to use site.
Problem solving is not directly addressed.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Navigation is clear and intuitive with extensive use of side bar menus.
Most of the links appear to be functional and current.
No matter what the users background and concern, they will be able to find relevant information. There is not a lot of undefined scientific jargon.
Students only need to have access to a computer with an internet connection, unless they wish to run the animations, which require Micromedia Flash ver. 5
Issues brought to a personal level with calculators to determine each person's/family's contribution to greenhouse gases.
A couple of the GHG calculators were not functional, however, others were.
Students may find the amount of available information a little overwhelming and will need well defined guidelines for using the site.
Other Issues and Comments:
The EPA Global Warming site is a user-friendly site that provides a wide variety of information accessible by most people. The scientific background of the issue is addressed as well as the potential impacts. The site acknowledges the uncertainties inherent in climate prediction but indicates that there is a definable trend occurring and that humans are impacting that trend.