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Climate Change, Media Literacy


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Earth and Space Sciences, English Language Arts


135 minutes

Regional Focus



Google Docs, Google Slides

Science in Media

Created By Teacher:
Last Updated:
Oct 1, 2022


In this lesson, students analyze ideas about science and how misinformation about climate change spreads in different forms of media.


Step 1 - Inquire: Students analyze a Google Image search of scientists and discuss true/false statements about the nature of science.


Step 2 - Investigate: Students work in groups using provided resources to answer the question, “Why are some people climate change skeptics?”


Step 3 - Inspire: Students select and analyze a piece of media for the accuracy of its climate science and discuss the effect on its audience.

Accompanying Teaching Materials
45 minutes

  • Teacher projects Google Image search results for “scientist.”

  • Students observe images and discuss using the following questions:

    • What do these images have in common? Why do you think the Google search produced these images and not other images?

    • If you had to write a description of the kind of person who is a scientist, what would you say?

    • If you had to write a job description of a scientist based only on what you see here, what would you say?

    • Do you think either of these descriptions is fully accurate? Which parts are accurate? Which parts are inaccurate and/or limited?

  • Teacher projects true/false statements about science.

  • Students indicate if they agree or disagree with the true/false statements by standing up at their desks or remaining seated.

    • Teacher displays correct answers and explanations for each question.

    •  Students discuss their responses to each explanation.

45 minutes
  • Teacher leads students through the Jigsaw Activity.

  • Teacher puts the students into three groups to begin:

    • Group A watches a video of a graduation speech about why people might mistrust science.

    • Group B reads a comic about the backfire effect. This comic discusses why it’s so hard for people to change their minds, especially about issues that are emotionally charged.

    • Group C reads an article about how disinformation spreads and watches a video about common misconceptions of climate change. (The data in the video are from 2014, but the debunking is the focus.)

  • Students follow the instructions and answer the questions on Part 1 of the Student Handout.

  • When Part 1 is completed, teacher assigns students to new groups, mixing students from Groups A, B, and C.

  • Students complete Part 2 of the Student Handout in their new groups.

  • Teacher brings the class together to discuss the following prompts:

    • Why are some people climate skeptics despite the overwhelming evidence of climate change?

    • How does the misunderstanding of science play into this skepticism?

    • What role does the media play in perpetuating this skepticism?

  • Teacher adds key takeaways from the Jigsaw Activity to the Teacher Slideshow. Key takeaways from the Jigsaw Activity may include:

    • Science can be confused with pseudoscience. Misunderstanding what science is and how the scientific community operates can lead to a mistrust of science.

    • Not all information out there about climate change comes from trustworthy sources. Some organizations profit from extracting and burning fossil fuels.

    • Misinformation sticks in the brain and misconceptions are hard to dislodge.

    • Core beliefs are very hard for us to change. We all have emotional reactions when faced with new information that contradicts our worldview.

45 minutes
  • Teacher introduces the project.

    • Students choose a piece of media about climate science.

    • Students research and assess the accuracy of the science claims in the media piece and discuss the impact on viewers.

  • Teacher walks students through the presentation using the Student Presentation Template to help them visualize the project and requirements.

    • Teacher shares the Student Presentation Rubric with students to guide their work.

    • Rubric can also be used for assessment.

  • Students work on their projects in class, for homework, or a mix of the two.

    • The project can be assigned individually or in groups.

    • For students working at home, teacher uses a few minutes of class time to check in with students.

  • Students record a screencast of themselves giving their completed presentation.

    • Students share the link to their presentation with the teacher.

    • Students watch at least three of their classmates’ presentations and leave positive feedback on each.

  • Once the project is complete, teacher facilitates a reflection discussion using the prompts in the Teacher Slideshow.

Teaching Tips


  • This lesson allows for lots of student choice and voice.

  • This lesson can easily fit at any point of the year in any science or language course.

  • This could be a standalone lesson or done as part of a research unit.

  • Students love doing this project and find it very engaging!

Additional Prerequisites

  • This lesson requires students to have a general understanding of climate science.

  • Students need to use research skills in order to complete the project.

  • Students need a device and the internet to access the resources and complete the project.


  • The jigsaw resources are very different and can allow for students to be assigned to an appropriate resource for their level.

  • Depending on the research skills of your students, more or less guidance and in-class time may be necessary for the project.

  • Different modes of sharing the project are possible, including in-class presentations, screencasts, gallery walks, etc.

Scientist Notes

This lesson promotes students' critical thinking skills through the use of true/false questions followed by group discussion concerning the reliability of information, what type of people provide information, and how one’s knowledge can change. After a group activity, students discuss why they believe people are skeptical of climate change and how misunderstanding science and the role of the media perpetuate climate change denial. Students are then encouraged to investigate their own piece of media, assessing the validity of the piece in its relationship to climate change. The included videos and quotes are credible and well-sourced. This would be a great lesson for older students concerning not only climate change but how to determine the reliability of information.

  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-5 Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth systems.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to important distinctions the author makes and to any gaps or inconsistencies in the account.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.2 Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; summarize complex concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., quantitative data, video, multimedia) in order to address a question or solve a problem.


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