Making climate change compelling aim of lesson

The challenge of making climate change compelling was the focus of an experiment at Dunstan High School last week.

The aim was to see if different ways of presenting information were more effective.

Pupils Emily Attfield (14), Niall Asher (17) and James Avenell (14), along with Dr Ethan Dale, of atmospheric research company Bodeker Scientific, helped set up the experiment in two classrooms.

In one room, Bodeker Scientific director Greg Bodeker spoke to pupils using a powerpoint presentation, and in an adjoining room, Dr Dale, Niall and James showed pupils climate information using a three-dimensional model showing the topography of the Queenstown Lakes district.

Dunstan High School pupils (from left) James Avenell (14), Niall Asher (17) and Emily Attfield ...
Dunstan High School pupils (from left) James Avenell (14), Niall Asher (17) and Emily Attfield (14) investigate new ways to present climate information. PHOTO: SIMON HENDERSON
Emily said the projections showed how different levels of emissions changed how the climate would look over the next 100 years.

‘‘We want to see if we can get people to care about climate change and we also want to see which presentation method is most effective.’’

Niall said using a 3-D model to project climate change data enabled people to easily visualise how different climate scenarios looked.

‘‘We wrote a programme that has two screens.’’

One screen was the projection on to the map, showing different data as colour gradients.

‘‘The other one is a touch screen that allows people to select what they want to see.

‘‘They can select types of data, year and whether it is a good outcome or a bad outcome.’’

James said pupils were able to select different climate change information to be projected on the model.

Options on the screen included annual maximum and minimum temperature increases, frost days, heavy rainfall days and snow covered days.

The display used two angled mirrors to project data back down on to the model.

Data from as far back as the 1970s was used to help predict future scenarios up to the 2090s.

Dr Dale said the three-dimensional model was constructed with 3-D printed tiles, then painted white.

The community-driven project was given funding of $19,786 by the Otago Participatory Science Platform.

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