This unit allows students to investigate past changes in Earth's climate. Students first explore relationships in climate data such as temperature, solar radiation, carbon dioxide, and biodiversity. They then investigate solar radiation in more depth to learn about changes over time such as seasonal shifts. Students then learn about mechanisms for exploring past changes in Earth's climate such as ice cores, tree rings, fossil records, etc. Finally, students tie all these together by considering the feedbacks throughout the Earth system and reviewing an article on a past mass extinction event.

In this activity, students research changes to the environment in the Arctic/Bering Sea over time using oral and photographic histories. Developed for Alaska Native students, this activity can be customized for other regions.

A detailed Google Earth tour of glacier change over the last 50 years introduces this topic in an engaging way. Students are then asked to select from a group of glaciers and create their own Google Earth tour exploring key characteristics and visible changes in that glacier.

In this activity, students learn about the urban heat island effect by investigating which areas of their schoolyard have higher temperatures - trees, grass, asphalt, and other materials. Based on their results, they hypothesize how concentrations of surfaces that absorb heat might affect the temperature in cities - the urban heat island effect. Then they analyze data about the history of Los Angeles heat waves and look for patterns in the Los Angeles climate data and explore patterns.

This activity allows students to make El Nino in a container, but it might work better as a teacher demonstration. The introduction and information provided describe El Nino, its processes and its effects on weather elsewhere in the world.

Through this set of lessons, students learn about the impacts of water shortages due to drought, make connections to climate patterns, and explore community resiliency solutions. The lessons engage students in evaluating solutions for a particular case study community. Students will need to do additional research on solutions, but by the end of the lesson, students will be able to articulate how drought, although a localized problem, has far-reaching impacts, and to suggest solutions to a problem that is projected to intensify as the climate continues to change.

This collection of learning activities allows students to explore phenology, phenological changes over time, and how these changes fit into the larger context of climate change. Students explore patterns of solar radiation and seasons as well as phenological cycles and ecological affects of these patterns.