Impacts of Climate Change

Blooming Thermometers

In this lesson, students learn about the Japanese festival celebrating the appearance of cherry blossoms in the spring and analyze average bloom date data from over 1000 years of records to understand how climate has changed.
How Climate WorksImpacts of Climate Change

A Companion Activity to the Drip Drop! Music Video

Drip Drop! is a music video intended to engage young people in a conversation about climate and water.
Layers of the Atmosphere

Air on the Go

Students observe that air under high pressure will move toward a low-pressure area and certain objects in the air’s path may move in the same direction.
Air Quality

Air Quality Teaching Box

Air pollution takes many forms - from particles of soot large enough to see, to individual molecules of ozone and nitrogen oxides. Air quality measurements let people know when the amounts of pollutants pose a health risk. This teaching box is filled with educational resources that help students explore the science of, and solutions to, air pollution.
How Climate Works

Analyzing Tree Ring Data Sequences

Align tree ring cores of different ages to build up a long timeline of past climate data in this hands-on activity.
CloudsStorms and Other Weather

Anatomy of a Storm’s Clouds

Students analyze cloud data from a storm that crossed the United States in late November 2019. They identify cloud types from photos of the sky in various locations to identify the zonation of clouds across a cold and warm front.
How Weather WorksLayers of the Atmosphere

Balloon in a Bottle

Air takes up space. It's only when air in the bottle escapes that more air is easily added!
Layers of the Atmosphere

Blue Skies and Red Sunsets

Find out how some wavelengths of light are scattered more than others producing blue skies and red sunsets.
Layers of the Atmosphere

Bubbles on Bottles

Students observe that a change in the temperature of air can impact the size of a bubble placed on a bottle that is cooled and/or heated.
How Climate WorksSolving Climate Change

Carbon Dioxide Sources and Sinks Activity

The amount of CO2  is increasing, which has an impact on global climate. In this lesson, students will investigate some of the ways CO2 gets into and out of the atmosphere, and how this process might affect the overall balance in our world.
How Weather Works

Catching Snowflakes

  Are you in a place where snow falls in winter? If so, try catching snowflakes. Then take a close look. Can you find two snowflakes that look alike?
How Climate WorksImpacts of Climate Change

Climate & Water Teaching Box

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.
Impacts of Climate Change

Climate Impacts Graph Matching

Students match graphs showing aspects of observed climate change with statements that describe the observations.
Impacts of Climate Change

Climate Postcards

Elementary students learn about the climate zones of the world by interpreting graphs and identifying climate zones described in postcards.
How Climate Works

Climate Variability Card Shuffle

Students use a deck of cards to model climate variability and longer-term trends in climate.

Cloud Viewer

  Use the Cloud Viewer to explore the clouds and sky outside. What type of clouds do you see? What color is the sky?

Clouds in the Air: Why Are They There?

An experiment that demonstrates why there are clouds in the sky. Start with air, invisible water vapor, particles we call condensation nuclei, and air pressure...the cloud comes later!

Clouds Teaching Box

A collection of educational resources to bring cloud science to elementary students.
CloudsHow Climate WorksHow Weather Works

Clouds, Weather, and Climate Teaching Box

This Teaching Box combines activities, data analysis, and discussion to help high school students consider how weather can affect clouds and how clouds can affect climate.
Air QualityImpacts of Climate Change

CO2: How Much Do You Spew?

Students analyze the energy consumption of a hypothetical household to determine the amount of carbon dioxide they are adding to the atmosphere each year.
Layers of the Atmosphere

Comparing Planetary Gases

Use jelly beans to compare the compositions (amounts of different gases) of the atmospheres of Earth, Mars, and Venus.
How Weather WorksHow Climate WorksEarth as a System

Connections in the Earth System

Students demonstrate their knowledge of interconnections between natural systems such as weather and climate and the built environment in which they live.
How Weather Works

Considering Flood Risk

Students analyze and interpret data on a map of floodplains to assess risk of flooding inform decision-making that will mitigate the effects of flooding.

Create a Portable Cloud

  In this hands-on activity, students experiment to discover how moisture, pressure, temperature, and condensation nuclei play a role in cloud formation.
Storms and Other Weather

Creating a Twister in a Jar

Students consider weather conditions before, during, and after a tornado and build a model to visualize what is happening when a tornado occurs.
How Climate Works

Dark Skies: Volcanic Contribution to Climate Change

In this lesson, students are introduced to the effects a major volcanic eruption has on the atmosphere through recent and historical images and videos and by exploring a simple model. They will learn about atmospheric change that causes a reduction in light to Earth’s surface and how this contributes to climate change.
Layers of the Atmosphere

Demonstrating the Thickness of Atmospheric Layers

Students will observe two scale models of Earth's atmosphere and the layers of the atmosphere to gain an appreciation for the size of the atmosphere compared to the planet Earth.
Layers of the Atmosphere

Detecting Ultraviolet Light Using Tonic Water

Students use a model to test actions for staying safe from the Sun's ultraviolet radiation. 

Drawing Clouds Inside the Lines

  In this classroom activity, students investigate how clouds change over time by making repeat observations of a section of sky and then representing their data graphically.
How Weather WorksHow Climate Works

El Niño Teaching Box

This Teaching Box combines readings and activities that utilize data to build student understanding of the changes that happen to the Pacific Ocean and atmosphere during an El Niño event.
Storms and Other Weather

Explore How Cars Lose Control on Ice, Safely

Icy roads make winter driving dangerous. Ice is slippery, causing cars and trucks to skid out of control. You can safely explore how cars slip on
How Climate Works

Exploring Paleoclimate Data

In this graphing activity, students investigate Oxygen-18 data from ice cores used to investigate past climate.

Exploring the Dynamic Nature of the Sun

Students develop an understanding of the dynamic and variable nature of the Sun by comparing and contrasting images that vary with respect to time, scale, or technology, and share their findings with peers. The class discusses the implications of the Sun as a variable force of nature and brainstorms a list of questions that have been raised by the comparison of images. During the following class period, the instructor facilitates a slide show to further student understanding of the dynamic processes of our Sun and offer explanations to student questions.
Sun and Space Weather

Feeling the Heat

Students learn about the urban heat island effect by investigating which areas of their schoolyard have higher temperatures. Then they analyze data about how the number of heat waves in an urban area has increased over time with population.
How Weather WorksHow Climate Works

Field Projects: Science in Action

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.
Storms and Other Weather

Flash Floods Teaching Box

Flash floods happen when quick and heavy rainfall causes placid waterways to turn into raging torrents. This teaching box is filled with explorations and readings that help secondary students learn the science of flash flooding. Students will learn that storms with unusually heavy rainfall can cause a flood, that the shape of the land and the ability of the ground to hold water influences whether a flood is likely, and they will learn how flash flood risk and probability is assessed. Get your feet wet by bringing the science of flash floods.
Storms and Other Weather

Flood Chances

Students test the hypothesis that a 100-year flood happens once every hundred years, learning how the probability of a flood does not mean that floods happen at regular intervals.
CloudsHow Climate Works

Get the Picture - Clouds and Climate

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.
Storms and Other Weather

Get the Picture - Severe Weather

Students review graphs and charts of severe weather data then answer "True and False" questions about the content conveyed.
How Climate WorksImpacts of Climate Change

Glaciers Then and Now

Students compare photographs of glaciers to observe how Alaskan glaciers have changed over the last century.
How Weather WorksStorms and Other Weather

GLOBE Weather

GLOBE Weather is a five-week curriculum unit designed to help middle school students understand weather at local, regional, and global scales.
Impacts of Climate Change

Graphing Sea Ice Extent in the Arctic & Antarctic

Graph the extent of sea ice, over months and years, in the Arctic and Antarctic. Learn about the seasons and long-term trends.
How Climate Works

Greenhouse Effect Teaching Box

This teaching box provides resources related to the greenhouse effect. It will help you teach how the greenhouse effect works, and how it prevents Earth from becoming a frozen ball of ice, and why there is too much of it happening today.
How Climate Works

Greenhouse Gas Game: Using Play to Learn Complex Concepts

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.
Storms and Other Weather

Hunting for the Pineapple Express

In this activity, students identify the location of an atmospheric river over the Pacific (also called the Pineapple Express) by analyzing water vapor data collected by COSMIC satellites.
Storms and Other Weather

Hurricane Resilience

Hurricane Resilience is a 20-day high school environmental science curriculum for use in coastal locations where hurricanes are common and helps students make connections between the science of hurricanes, how they affect their community and region, and how we can plan for a more resilient future.
Storms and Other WeatherHow Climate WorksImpacts of Climate Change

Hurricanes and Climate

Students investigate maps and data to learn where and when hurricanes form and how climate change may be affecting them.
How Weather Works

Interactive Story Map: Return from Catastrophe: Moore, Oklahoma

On May 20, 2013, a devastating tornado occurred in Moore, Oklahoma. How did the people of Moore work to rebuild their community?
How Weather Works

Interactive Story Map: Twister Dashboard: Exploring Three Decades of Violent Storms

Students investigate three decades of tornado data through an interactive Story Map from Esri.
Earth as a System

It's Just a Phase: Modeling the Phases of Water

In this activity, students will construct models of the arrangement of water molecules in the three physical states. Students will understand that matter can be found in three forms or phases (solid, liquid, and gas).
Storms and Other Weather

Jigsaw group research on the 2013 Colorado Floods

Students research the 2013 Colorado floods, present the information they find, and summarize all information presented.
How Climate Works

Little Ice Age Data Analysis

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.

Living During the Little Ice Age

Students brainstorm what the living conditions during the period known as the Little Ice Age (AD 1350–1850) might have been like. Then students study information about lifestyles, the economy, crop yields, and human and livestock mortality during the Little Ice Age. They compare and discuss what they have learned.
How Climate WorksSun and Space Weather

Looking Into Surface Albedo

This hands-on inquiry activity allows students to explore how the color of materials that cover the Earth affects the amounts of sunlight it absorbs using a simple model.
Storms and Other Weather

Make a Tornado

Students explore factors that influence why certain areas in the United States have more tornadoes than others and observe a model to visualize what is happening during a tornado.
Layers of the Atmosphere

Measuring Density by Bending Light

Students observe how different materials bend light and how we can infer the nature of the material based on the amount it bends light rays.
Solving Climate Change

Mitigation or Adaptation?

Students use a card sort activity to explore different actions we can take to reduce the risks of climate change and learn to recognize different types of climate solutions: mitigations and adaptations.
Air Quality

Mixing Up Parts Per Million (and Billion)

Students follow steps to dilute a colored dye in water until the dye is one part per million. Then students consider atmospheric gases that are present in trace quantities, like ozone, and discuss how pollutants can be hazardous at very small concentrations.
How Climate Works

Model a Moving Glacier

Students make a model of glacier motion and then design an experiment to figure out what affects the speed of a glacier.
How Climate Works

Model Resolution Exploration

Students create and investigate a physical model to explore how the resolution of a mathematical model impacts model results.
How Weather Works

Modeling a Weather Front

In this activity, students observe how temperature changes can create a weather front, in particular how the mixing of warm and cold air can produce thunderstorms. Water, which behaves very similarly to air, and a density tank are used in this demonstration.
Layers of the Atmosphere

Modeling How Air Moves

In this activity, students use models to observe that air is a fluid that flows due to temperature-driven density differences.
Air Quality

Modeling Smog

In this activity, students create molecule models using marshmallows to understand and explain how smog forms.
Storms and Other Weather

Modeling Storm Surge

After reading about hurricanes and their impacts on the coast, students model conditions during a hurricane that produce storm surge and witness its impact on model coastlines.
Layers of the Atmosphere

Modeling the Behavior of Air with Bottles

In this hands-on activity, students explore how temperature affects the behavior of air molecules.
Earth as a System

Modeling Tree Transpiration

In this activity, students will observe and measure the water given off through transpiration by a plant in a small terrarium.
Earth as a System

Modeling Wind Dynamics and Forests

In this activity, students will develop a model of a forest using plastic bottles and then observe and analyze changes in winds related to differences in forest density. 
Engineering, Computers, and Modeling

Mountain Rescue!

Students test a glider's launch design, payload, and atmospheric wind conditions that could favorably or negatively impact the pilot's intention to provide rescue supplies to a mountain community in need.  
Air Quality

Name That Air Pollutant

Students create graphic organizers describing the four major air pollutants regulated by the U.S. Clean Air Act (ground-level ozone, particle pollution, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide) and then identify the pollutants with a guessing game.

Natural Records 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.
Layers of the Atmosphere

Not Your Usual Pop!

Students learn how to crush a can with only air pressure.
Air Quality

Ozone Attack

In this activity, students observe how rubber bands deteriorate, developing cracks or pits, in locations with different ozone levels.
Air Quality

Ozone in Our Neighborhood

Students will experiment to understand variations in the amount of ground-level ozone between different places in their neighborhood, town, or city.
How Climate Works

Paleoclimates and Pollen

Students examine "pollen" in simulated lake bottom sediment core samples to infer past climate in the vicinity of the lake.
Sun and Space Weather

Photon Folks

Students learn that when light shines on an object, it is reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through the object, depending on the object’s material and frequency (color) of the light.
Sun and Space Weather

Planet Magnet

  Students use iron filings to explore the magnetic field around a magnet and record their observations. Next, students apply their experience with the magnet to understand the magnetic field around Earth. Following their investigation, students summarize their findings.
How Climate WorksSolving Climate Change

Plugged In To CO2

Students analyze the energy consumption of a household appliance and estimate the amount of carbon dioxide it is adding to the atmosphere each year.
Layers of the Atmosphere

Plunger Pull

Use plungers to create a vacuum and learn about how air exerts pressure.
Storms and Other Weather

Project Resilience

Project Resilience is a 20-day high school curriculum that helps students examine the environmental challenges facing communities along the Gulf of Mexico and learn about resilience planning using a resilience planning toolkit.
Earth as a System

Radiation and Albedo Experiment

Students will investigate how different surfaces of the Earth reflect and absorb heat and apply this knowledge to real-world situations.
How Weather Works

Rain Measurements Tell a Story

Using language arts, math, and measurement skills, elementary students explore rainfall data and learn how to measure precipitation through an interactive story. 
Earth as a SystemSun and Space Weather

Raise the Roof on Urban Heat

Students use a simple model to explore how roof colors can impact the temperature of an urban area.
Storms and Other Weather

Satellite Storm Search

Students investigate a physical model to explore how satellite data impacts weather monitoring and forecasting.
Layers of the Atmosphere

Satellites and the Atmosphere Teaching Box

Students will learn how the COSMIC satellites collect data about the atmosphere by measuring bending radio waves.
Engineering, Computers, and Modeling

Serial vs. Parallel Processing Activity

This activity uses stacks of blocks to demonstrate how a parallel-processing computer can complete calculations more quickly than a single, serial processor.
Solving Climate Change

Solving the Carbon Dioxide Problem

Students use information from Project Drawdown to learn about the sectors where climate solutions are being implemented to help slow down climate warming. Students construct a plan for using specific solutions to reduce and remove the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and make a claim describing how their plan could work to keep global temperature change below 1.5 °C .
How Weather WorksHow Climate Works

Studying CO2 from Pole to Pole

In this activity, students will analyze data sets that show how carbon dioxide varies through the atmosphere at different latitudes, altitudes, and different times of year.
Sun and Space Weather

Sun Teaching Box

This Teaching Box will help your students learn to identify features of the Sun using images with "light" from different regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. Many solar features play roles in the eruption of space weather "storms", so knowledge of these features is a prerequisite for understanding and predicting space weather events.

Sunspots and Climate

Students identify sunspots on images of the Sun, discovering that the number, location, and size of spots are not always the same. During the first part of the activity, students make a graph that shows how the number of sunspots has changed over the past 30 years, discovering that there is a regular pattern to the number of sunspots (the 11-year sunspot cycle).
Engineering, Computers, and Modeling

Teaching with Drones

A collection of activities developed for Engineering Experiences that get students using drones to learn about engineering and technology.

The Art of Clouds

Students use a cloud identification guide to identify clouds in landscape paintings, then make their own art to identify cloud types.

The Magnetic Sun

Students build a simple version of a magnetometer, an instrument capable of detecting areas that have strong magnetic fields. Students use their magnetometer and models of the Sun to investigate areas that have strong magnetic fields. Students examine images of the Sun to describethe features associated with the Sun's strongest magnetic fields and learn more about the features they have identified either through student research or teacher presentation.
Earth as a System

The Nitrogen Cycle Game

Students play the role of nitrogen atoms traveling through the nitrogen cycle to gain understanding of the varied pathways through the cycle and the relevance of nitrogen to living things.
How Weather WorksHow Climate WorksEarth as a SystemSun and Space Weather

The Systems Game

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.
Solving Climate Change

The Very Simple Climate Model Activity

Through a simple online model, students learn about the relationship between average global temperature and carbon dioxide emissions while predicting temperature change over the 21st Century.
How Climate Works

Thermal Expansion of Water

Students investigate how thermal expansion of seawater impacts sea level.
Storms and Other Weather

Tornadoes Teaching Box

Tornadoes, also called twisters, are rare and powerful weather events in which columns of air rotate dangerously fast. In this teaching box are resources to help students learn why and where tornadoes happen and how these weather events impact people’s lives.
Storms and Other WeatherImpacts of Climate Change

Torrents, Droughts, and Twisters Oh My!

Students review what scientists know and what they’re working to understand about the relationship between extreme weather events and climate change.
How Weather Works

Tracking Hurricane News

Students read news articles about Hurricane Irene, present information with classmates, and construct a timeline to describe the hurricane’s story over time and across geographic area, exploring what happened, how people were affected, and how they reacted.
How Climate Works

Trees: Recorders of Climate Change

Students observe tree rings in a tree cross section sample and analyze tree ring data to interpret paleoclimate conditions. 
Layers of the Atmosphere

Up and Away - Bernoulli's Way

Learn about Bernoulli's Principle with hairdryers and ping pong balls!
Earth as a System

Urban Heat: A New York City Exploration

  In this activity, students use a graph to make a hypothesis about the difference between urban heat in New York City streets and in Central Park.
Layers of the Atmosphere

Virtual Ballooning to Explore the Atmosphere Activity

In this computer-based virtual lab, students will learn about the layers of Earth's atmosphere by launching virtual weather balloons to collect temperature and pressure data at various altitudes.
How Weather WorksEarth as a System

Water Cycle Activity

In this activity, students will build a model to simulate parts of the water cycle. They will be able to recognize and explain the essential elements of the water cycle.
Sun and Space Weather

Waves of Energy More or Less

Students create and observe wavelengths at both high and low energy levels using safety glasses, rope, and a power drill.
How Weather WorksHow Climate Works

Weather and Climate Data Exploration

Students explore the relationship between weather and climate by graphing weather temperature data and comparing with climate averages.
How Weather Works

Weather Forecasting & Satellites Teaching Box

This Teaching Box combines activities that build middle school student understanding of how satellites help make weather forecasts more accurate.
How Weather Works

Weather in the News

In this activity, students will compare stories about a weather event from different media sources and different perspectives.

What Can a Tree Do For You?

Students consider the wide range of ways that trees and forests benefit the Earth. Then they focus on how trees help to combat climate change. They take measurements of a local tree to calculate the amount of carbon stored by their tree, and then analyze data to calculate the amount of carbon stored over time. Students learn about the factors that influence how much carbon can be stored by forests and evaluate reforestation as a climate solution.
Earth as a System

What do soda and the oceans have in common?

Students will use soda to explore how carbon dioxide is able to dissolve into liquid. They will learn about Henry's law, which describes how the solubility of gas into liquids is dependent on temperature, and develop hypotheses about how the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a greenhouse gas, is affected by rising atmospheric and oceanic temperatures.
Air Quality

Whirling, Swirling Air Pollution

In this activity students get a sense of the many ways in which daily activities use natural resources and contribute to air pollution.
Layers of the Atmosphere

Whole Body Ozone Chemistry

In this activity, students will play the roles of various atoms and molecules to help them better understand the formation and destruction of ozone in the stratosphere.
Storms and Other Weather

Winter Weather Teaching Box

Winter weather may cancel school, but it’s also an opportunity to learn science. This teaching box is filled with hands-on activities that get primary grade students to learn the science of winter weather including concepts of earth science. Explore the educational resources in this teaching box and bring snow and ice into your classroom!