Maps of Climate and Energy Concepts

Strong approaches to teaching about climate and energy make connections between the Essential Principles of Climate Science and help integrate the fundamental concepts into an overarching scope and sequence for student learning. Further they build connections between other science content and these topics.

In order to help educators explore how CLEAN resources can be organized into a logical scope and sequence to learn about climate and energy, we present the CLEAN collection in a tool that visually connects CLEAN resources with the benchmark from the AAAS Project 2061 Benchmarks for Science Literacy. The tool illustrates the benchmark that a resource addresses, as well as related benchmarks - those that are considered pre-requisite knowledge and those that extend knowledge further. Clicking on any benchmark in this tool will provide information about resources in the CLEAN collection that addresses that benchmark.


The climate and energy maps are built with the National Science Digital Library Strand Map Service, which provides an online interface to the science literacy benchmarks from the AAAS Project 2061 Atlas for Science Literacy. These scope and sequence maps can be used by educators to explore the connections between different learning objectives, which in turn link to CLEAN selected resources.

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The Climate and Energy Maps can help you understand what concepts form the foundation for any specific concept and what students need to fully understand it. In this example, the foundational concepts are shown below the benchmark that addresses how "the Earth's climate has changed in the past, is changing now, and is expected to change in the future." If your students' comprehension of the foundational concepts is weak or incomplete, attaining a deep and enduring understanding of the central concept will be difficult. The information in these maps can help you help your students attain this foundational understanding.


If you want to know how to build and move students' understanding of climate and energy concepts to more advanced levels, you can simply examine the maps above the central concept. This image shows the concepts for which the concept "the Earth's climate has changed in the past, is changing now, and is expected to change in the future" is foundational for more advanced climate literacy fundamental concepts.

Key Maps

Middle School (grades 6-8)

Scientific Inquiry-1b Scientific investigations usually involve the collection of relevant data, the use of logical reasoning, and the application of imagination in devising hypotheses and explanations to make sense of the collected data. (1B/M1b)

The Earth-9 Thermal energy carried by ocean currents has a strong influence on climates around the world. Areas near oceans tend to have more moderate temperatures than they would if they were farther inland but at the same latitude because water in the oceans can hold a large amount of thermal energy. (4B/M9)

Energy Transformations-6 Light and other electromagnetic waves can warm objects. How much an object's temperature increases depends on how intense the light striking its surface is, how long the light shines on the object, and how much of the light is absorbed. (4E/M6)

Interdependence of Life-1b The world contains a wide diversity of physical conditions, which creates a wide variety of environments: freshwater, marine, forest, desert, grassland, mountain, and others. In any particular environment, the growth and survival of organisms depend on the physical conditions. (5D/M1b)

Evolution of Life-2b Changes in environmental conditions can affect the survival of individual organisms and entire species. (5F/M2b)

Energy Sources and Use-5 Energy from the sun (and the wind and water energy derived from it) is available indefinitely. Because the transfer of energy from these resources is weak and variable, systems are needed to collect and concentrate the energy. (8C/M5)

Energy Sources and Use-10 Some resources are not renewable or renew very slowly. Fuels already accumulated in the earth, for instance, will become more difficult to obtain as the most readily available resources run out. How long the resources will last, however, is difficult to predict. The ultimate limit may be the prohibitive cost of obtaining them. (8C/M10)

High School (grades 9-12)

The Earth-2 Transfer of thermal energy between the atmosphere and the land or oceans produces temperature gradients in the atmosphere and the oceans. Regions at different temperatures rise or sink or mix, resulting in winds and ocean currents. These winds and ocean currents, which are also affected by the earth's rotation and the shape of the land, carry thermal energy from warm to cool areas. (4B/H2)

The Earth-4 Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide and water vapor, are transparent to much of the incoming sunlight but not to the infrared light from the warmed surface of the earth. When greenhouse gases increase, more thermal energy is trapped in the atmosphere, and the temperature of the earth increases the light energy radiated into space until it again equals the light energy absorbed from the sun. (4B/H4)

The Earth-6 The earth's climates have changed in the past, are currently changing, and are expected to change in the future, primarily due to changes in the amount of light reaching places on the earth and the composition of the atmosphere. The burning of fossil fuels in the last century has increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which has contributed to Earth's warming. (4B/H6)

Energy Sources and Use-2 When selecting fuels, it is important to consider the relative advantages and disadvantages of each fuel. (8C/H2)

Energy Sources and Use-5 Decisions to slow the depletion of energy resources can be made at many levels, from personal to national, and they always involve trade-offs involving economic costs and social values. (8C/H5)

Information Processing-1 Computer modeling explores the logical consequences of a set of instructions and a set of data. The instructions and data input of a computer model try to represent the real world so the computer can show what would actually happen. In this way, computers assist people in making decisions by simulating the consequences of different possible decisions. (8E/H1)

Credit: CLEAN