This lesson is comprised of three activities (three class periods). Students use web-based animations to explore the impacts of ice melt and changes to sea level. Students are introduced to topographic maps by doing a hands-on activity to model the contours of an island. Students examine the relationship between topography and sea level change by mapping changing shorelines using a topographic map.
In this activity, students utilize a set of photographs and a 30 minute video on weather to investigate extreme weather events. They are posed with a series of questions that ask them to identify conditions predictive of these events, and record them on a worksheet. Climate and weather concepts defined.
This teaching activity addresses environmental stresses on corals. Students assess coral bleaching using water temperature data from the NOAA National Data Buoy Center. Students learn about the habitat of corals, the stresses on coral populations, and the impact of increased sea surface temperatures on coral reefs. In a discussion section, the connection between coral bleaching and global warming is drawn.
In this 'Energy Education for the 21st Century' design challenge, students construct and evaluate a solar-powered model car. Students utilize the design process and undergo review by their peers to select an optimal gear ratio and components for their car. As a culminating activity, students compete in a Solar Sprint race modeled after the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Junior Solar Sprint competition.
In this activity, students use NASA satellite data to explore the seasonal changes in sea surface temperatures of the Gulf Stream. Students use NASA's Live Active Server (LAS) to generate data of sea surface temperatures in the Gulf Stream, which they then graph and analyze.
Students perform a lab to explore how the color of materials at the Earth's surface affect the amount of warming. Topics covered include developing a hypothesis, collecting data, and making interpretations to explain why dark colored materials become hotter.
In this hands-on activity, participants learn the characteristics of the five layers of the atmosphere and make illustrations to represent them. They roll the drawings and place them in clear plastic cylinders, and then stack the cylinders to make a model column of the atmosphere.
This multi-week project begins with a measurement of baseline consumptive behavior followed by three weeks of working to reduce the use of water, energy, high-impact foods, and other materials. The assignment uses an Excel spreadsheet that calculates direct energy and water use as well as indirect CO2 and water use associated with food consumption. After completing the project, students understand that they do indeed play a role in the big picture. They also learn that making small changes to their lifestyles is not difficult and they can easily reduce their personal impact on the environment.
This activity features video segments from a 2007 PBS program on solar energy. Students follow a seven-step invention process to design, build, and test a solar cooker that will pasteurize water. In addition, they are asked to describe how transmission, absorption, and reflection are used in a solar cooker to heat water and to evaluate what variables contribute to a successful cooker.
The activity takes a hands-on approach to understanding El Niño by physically showing and feeling the process. It consists of an El Niño demo to be performed by the teacher and observed by the class as well as an experiment to be conducted by the students themselves individually or in pairs to illustrate the connection between water temperature and atmospheric temperature. Students are asked to make conclusions based on their findings and then examine the chain of events stemming from El Niño.