Recent climate change is already having impacts - from melting Arctic sea ice and glaciers, to the lack of rainfall in the southwest and central United States, and the impacts of sea level rise on coasts worldwide. This teaching box is filled with explorations and readings that help secondary students learn how climate change is affecting the water cycle.
In this activity, students gather information about atmospheric scientific field projects in order to understand how a research question about the Earth system can be answered by collecting data using many different research platforms and instruments.
Students review illustrations, maps, cross-sections, and graphs that tell a piece of the story about the effects of clouds on climate. They answer "True and False" questions about each visual and discuss what they take away from the information.
This Greenhouse Gas Game enables students to interact with each other as they learn about the heat-trapping properties of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. They learn that human actions are altering the levels of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. Teams explore how long it takes to reach the top of the Temperature Tracker based on human activity, with the winner taking the longest to reach the top of the Temperature Tracker.
Students receive data about tree ring records, solar activity, and volcanic eruptions during the Little Ice Age (AD 1350–1850). By comparing and contrasting time intervals when tree growth was at a minimum, solar activity was low, and major volcanic eruptions occurred, they draw conclusions about possible natural causes of climate change.
Students play a dice game to explore the differences between direct and indirect evidence to gain an understanding of how indirect evidence of climate change can be interpreted. The activity concludes with a discussion about the various records made by humans and indirect evidence found in nature that can be studied to understand how climate has varied through time.
Systems thinking is an important concept across the Earth sciences. In this game, students either are a part of a system or serve as scientists tasked with observing and making sense of the system moving in front of them.