In this activity, learners use the STELLA box modeling software to determine Earth's temperature based on incoming solar radiation and outgoing terrestrial radiation. Starting with a simple black body model, the exercise gradually adds complexity by incorporating albedo, then a 1-layer atmosphere, then a 2-layer atmosphere, and finally a complex atmosphere with latent and sensible heat fluxes. With each step, students compare the modeled surface temperature to Earth's actual surface temperature, thereby providing a check on how well each increasingly complex model captures the physics of the actual system.

This 10 minute video builds connections between topics that are important in climate science such as: the impact of variations in Earth's orbit and wobble on it's axis on climate; how the cores being sampled fit into the bigger climate picture; connecting greenhouse gases to melting ice and sea level changes; the sensitivity of the ice melt / sea level rise relationship; and computer model simulations showing connections between ice sheets and sea level.
The companion website provides resources, an extensive list of activities, teacher guides, posters, and more.

In this interactive activity students will create a very simple climate model. They use worksheets, chips/tokens, and follow rules for heat exchange. The activity only models temperature but there are instructions for adaptations of the model, such as rule changes for an atmosphere with increased levels of CO2.