Polar Climate Change Lesson Plans

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These curricular unit plans help students explore and understand climate change with particular attention to the impact of climate change on the polar regions. Topics include the role of the polar regions in the global climate system, the impact of changing temperatures on ecosystems, and the effect of increased CO2 on food webs. Grade levels range from middle school to undergraduates. These lessons were developed by educators who completed the Museum's online teacher professional development course Climate Change. Seminars on Science offers Climate Change and other courses year round for educators who are interested in professional development or graduate credit. The development and review of these lesson plans was made possible through the PoLAR Partnership.

 

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The PoLAR Partnership is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DUE-1239783. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Teleconnections

Teleconnections

This unit is designed for high school juniors and seniors. Students will analyze data to study how events/conditions in one location affect the climate/weather in a distant location, especially the arctic regions.

Why are the Glaciers Melting?

Why are the Glaciers Melting?

This unit is designed for sixth grade students. The unit covers the carbon cycle, greenhouse effect, the impact of glacial melting, and feedback mechanisms. Students will learn about anthropogenic causes of climate change and calculate their carbon footprint.

Climate, the Cryosphere, and the Carbon Cycle

Climate, the Cryosphere, and the Carbon Cycle

This unit is designed for high school students. The lessons use a guided notes approach and conclude with a lesson evaluation. After an introduction to the cryosphere, students focus on glacial retreat in Antarctica and conduct mini-labs to understand concepts.

As the Arctic Goes, So Does the Rest of the Planet

As the Arctic Goes, So Does the Rest of the Planet

This unit plan is a two-day workshop designed to help teachers instruct middle school aged learners about climate change. Teachers begin by sharing lists of what they believe will be the effects of global warming and then read and discuss an actual case of one such effect.

Is it Getting Greener?

Is it Getting Greener?

This unit is designed for high school students. Students analyze the ability of arctic plants to absorb different wavelengths of light and describe how this affects many animals living in different biomes. Students analyze arctic photos through different filters and explore spectral data taken by satellites.

Climate Change and Ecosystems

Climate Change and Ecosystems

This unit was designed for high school students. It includes activities that challenges students to create a project to inform the public about climate change and to provide a unique solution to mitigate carbon emissions.

How do Humans Impact Climate Change?

How do Humans Impact Climate Change?

This unit is designed for a middle school science class. Students create their own ecosystem using a piece of sod and other materials to create a “town” and analyze ecological impact of the human population. Additionally, there is a personal carbon footprint activity and a trip to a local watershed.

Impact of Increasing CO2 on the Food Web in the Arctic Ocean?

Impact of Increasing CO2 on the Food Web in the Arctic Ocean?

This unit is designed for eighth to tenth grade students. The lessons are focused around the loss of Arctic sea ice and its affect on the Arctic food web. The lesson concludes with the students writing an essay addressing how increased carbon emissions will affect the Arctic ocean.

Earth's Climate System

Earth's Climate System

This unit is a design for an online course at the college level. The lesson begins with a discussion on comparing weather and climate and the polar region followed by global air circulation and paleoclimate. The lesson concludes with a Concept Map Project, complete with a rubric.