P687: Visualizing the Chemistry of Climate Change (VC3Chem): Online modules and visualizations for teaching and learning chemistry through the context of climate science
Global climate change is one of the most pressing environmental challenges facing humanity. Many of the important climate change concepts require mental models that are built on a fundamental understanding of chemistry, yet connections to these concepts are largely missing from undergraduate chemistry courses for science majors. In the NSF-funded Visualizing the Chemistry of Climate Change (VC3Chem) project, we have developed and piloted four online interactive modules that address this gap by teaching core chemistry concepts through the rich context of climate science. The interactive web-based digital learning modules at www.vc3chem.com, to be publicly released in 2014, enable students to learn about isotopes, gases, acid/base chemistry, and thermochemistry by tying these concepts to relevant climate contexts. The modules can be used in traditional, flipped, or fully online classes and incorporate 25 applets that demonstrate concepts including IR absorption by greenhouse gases, carbon speciation in the ocean as a result of increasing atmospheric CO2 levels, and alteration of the earth’s energy balance. The efficacy of these tools and this approach has been assessed through measuring changes in students’ understanding about both climate change and core chemistry concepts using Hake’s gain scores from pre-and post-tests.