This is a sequence of 5 classroom activities focusing on the El NiÃo climate variability. The activities increase in complexity and student-directedness. The focus of the activities is on accessing and manipulating real data to help students understand El NiÃo as an interaction of Earth systems.

In this activity, students are introduced to tree rings by examining a cross section of a tree, also known as a 'tree cookie.' They discover how tree age can be determined by studying the rings and how ring thickness can be used to deduce times of optimal growing conditions. Next, they investigate simulated tree rings applying the scientific method to explore how climatic conditions varied over time.

In this activity, students learn about sea ice extent in both polar regions (Arctic and Antarctic). They start out by forming a hypothesis on the variability of sea ice, testing the hypothesis by graphing real data from a recent 3-year period to learn about seasonal variations and over a 25-year period to learn about longer-term trends, and finish with a discussion of their results and predictions.

In this activity, students learn how to read, analyze, and construct climographs. These climographs are a graphic way of displaying monthly average temperature and precipitation. Students also practice matching climographs to various locations and summarize global-scale climate patterns revealed by comparing climographs.

This activity engages learners to make a model of sediment cores using different kinds of glass beads and sand. They learn how to examine the types, numbers, and conditions of diatom skeletons in the model sediment cores and tell something about the hypothetical paleoclimate that existed when they were deposited. The students get to be climate detectives.

The purpose of this activity is to identify global patterns and connections in environmental data contained in the GLOBE Earth Systems Poster, to connect observations made within the Earth Systems Poster to data and information at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, and to understand the connections between solar energy and changes at the poles, including feedback related to albedo.

This multi-part activity introduces users to normal seasonal sea surface temperature (SST) variation as well as extreme variation, as in the case of El NiÃo and La NiÃa events, in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. Via a THREDDS server, users learn how to download seasonal SST data for the years 1982 to 1998. Using a geographic information system (GIS), they visualize and analyze that data, looking for the tell-tale SST signature of El Nino and La Nina events that occurred during that time period. At the end, students analyze a season of their own choosing to determine if an El NiÃo or La NiÃa SST pattern emerged in that year's data.

A detailed Google Earth tour of glacier change over the last 50 years is given in class as an introduction. Students are then asked to select from a group of glaciers and create their own Google Earth tour exploring key characteristics and evident changes in that glacier.

This teaching activity addresses regional variability as predicted in climate change models for the next century. Using real climatological data from climate models, students will obtain annual predictions for minimum temperature, maximum temperature, precipitation, and solar radiation for Minnesota and California to explore this regional variability. Students import the data into a spreadsheet application and analyze it to interpret regional differences. Finally, students download data for their state and compare them with other states to answer a series of questions about regional differences in climate change.

In this learning activity, students use a web-based geologic timeline to examine temperature, CO2 concentration, and ice cover data to investigate how climate has changed during the last 715 million years.

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