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.

This hands-on activity is a kinesthetic game illustrating the dynamics of the carbon cycle. Acting as carbon atoms, students travel from one carbon reservoir to another; at each reservoir they determine, by rolling dice, how long they stay in the reservoir or how likely it is that they will move to another carbon reservoir.

In this activity from the Deep Earth Academy, students divide into groups to read and discuss one of nine short articles (1-2 pages) about research done by the Ocean Drilling Program. These articles discuss our understanding about past climate based on collected data. These articles briefly describe the research conducted and the findings. Students use the information from the article to complete a write-up that they share with other students. An extension activity involves examining ocean drilling data using Google Earth.

This activity introduces students to visualization capabilities available through NASA's Earth Observatory, global map collection, NASA NEO and ImageJ. Using these tools, students build several animations of satellite data that illustrate carbon pathways through the Earth system.

In this activity, students collect weather data over several days or weeks, graph temperature data, and compare the temperature data collected with long-term climate averages from where they live. Understanding the difference between weather and climate and interpreting local weather data are important first steps to understanding larger-scale global climate changes.

Hands-on laboratory activity that allows students to investigate the effects of distance and angle on the input of solar radiation at Earth's surface, the role played by albedo, the heat capacity of land and water, and how these cause the seasons. Students predict radiative heating based on simple geometry and experiment to test their hypotheses.

In this activity, students make a model sea floor sediment core using two types of buttons to represent fossil diatoms. They then compare the numbers of diatom fossils in the sediment at different depths to determine whether the seas were free of ice while the diatoms were alive.

In this mock mission, students become members of a research team and conduct a series of tasks to audit Earth's radiative budget. They use a Java Applet/visual viewer to access satellite data sets, calculate the balance of incoming and outgoing solar radiation, and defend their answers to a number of science questions.

This three-part, hands-on investigation explores how sunlight's angle of incidence at Earth's surface impacts the amount of solar radiation received in a given area. The activity is supported by PowerPoint slides and background information.

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.