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Middle School Climate Education

This is a curated collection of resources that aim to teach about Earth's climate for middle school students. 

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The American Pika: A climate indicator species?
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Educational Use
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This video provides a detailed description of the habitat of the American Pika and how this organism may serve as a climate indicator species because they have a relatively narrow ecological niche and specialized habitat.

Subject:
Applied Science
Biology
Career and Technical Education
Ecology
Environmental Science
Environmental Studies
Life Science
Physical Science
Material Type:
Diagram/Illustration
Reading
Provider:
CLEAN: Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network
Provider Set:
CLEAN: Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network
Author:
Earth Initiatives
Niwot Ridge Long Term Research Project
Date Added:
07/05/2021
America's Climate Choices: Advancing the Science of Climate Change
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This video production is a part of a four-panel report from the National Academies' America's Climate Choices project. The video maps out the realm of our accumulated knowledge regarding climate change and charts a path forward, urging that research on climate change enter a new era focused on the needs of decision makers.

Subject:
Applied Science
Atmospheric Science
Career and Technical Education
Environmental Science
Environmental Studies
Physical Science
Provider:
CLEAN: Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network
Provider Set:
CLEAN: Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network
Author:
National Academies
Date Added:
09/24/2018
Analyzing Greenwashing
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CC BY-NC
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SYNOPSIS: In this lesson, students analyze the concept of greenwashing of products.

SCIENTIST NOTES: This lesson introduces students to greenwashing and then presents Trader Joe’s as a case study. Students are tasked with designing their own green product and an accompanying marketing plan. The lesson informs students how companies can mislead them with products that only seem environmentally friendly and gives tips on how to spot greenwashing. This lesson is recommended for teaching. (The only small issue with this lesson is that an advertisement for a VPN is included in the Trader Joe’s case study video, but that's just part of using resources from YouTube.)

POSITIVES:
-Students create a product and then see what effect their product has on consumers. This will show students how greenwashing occurs within marketing campaigns.
-This lesson includes media literacy components.

ADDITIONAL PREREQUISITES:
-Teachers should be familiar with the term greenwashing and be able to explain what is regulated by the FDA and what is not regulated by the FDA.
-Teachers should understand the term green is not regulated by the FDA, but the term organic is regulated by the FDA.

DIFFERENTIATION:
-The term greenwashing is an abstract concept, so it may be hard for students to grasp. Showing other examples of greenwashing may help students better understand the concept.
-Teachers can show students different labels or advertisements and have students analyze whether they consider each example greenwashing or not.

Subject:
English Language Arts
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Provider:
SubjectToClimate
Author:
Christa Delaney
Date Added:
06/29/2023
Analyzing the Urban Heat Island Effect
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Educational Use
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This activity covers the causes, effects, and mitigation of urban heat in New York City. Students use data sets, graphs, maps and images to create their own plan for mitigation in their area. Robust satellite images, city data, tables, maps, and graphs are included in the resource for students to explore.

Subject:
Applied Science
Career and Technical Education
Environmental Science
Environmental Studies
Physical Science
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
CLEAN: Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network
Provider Set:
CLEAN: Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network
Author:
City of New York
Date Added:
07/05/2021
Ancient Ice and Our Planet's Future
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This short video describes how the compression of Antarctic snow into ice captures air from past atmospheres. It shows how ice cores are drilled from the Antarctic ice and prepared for shipment and subsequent analysis.

Subject:
Applied Science
Career and Technical Education
Environmental Science
Environmental Studies
Physical Science
Provider:
CLEAN: Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network
Provider Set:
CLEAN: Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network
Author:
National Science Foundation
WAIS Divide Ice Core Project
Date Added:
09/24/2018
Antarctic Ice: Sea Level Change
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What would happen if a portion of the Antarctic Ice Sheet were to melt? This video segment adapted from NOVA uses animations to show the effect of a 6-meter sea-level rise on coastal cities across the world.

Subject:
Atmospheric Science
Physical Science
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Diagram/Illustration
Provider:
PBS LearningMedia
Provider Set:
PBS Learning Media: Multimedia Resources for the Classroom and Professional Development
Author:
National Science Foundation
WGBH Educational Foundation
Date Added:
12/17/2005
Antarctica Ice
Unrestricted Use
CC BY
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This short video examines the recent melting ice shelves in the Antarctica Peninsula; the potential collapse of West Antarctic ice shelf; and how global sea levels, coastal cities, and beaches would be affected.

Subject:
Physical Science
Provider:
CLEAN: Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network
Provider Set:
CLEAN: Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network
Author:
National Geographic
Date Added:
06/19/2012
Anya: Citizen Science in Siberia - Young Voices on Climate Change
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Educational Use
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Citizen scientist Anya, an indigenous Siberian girl, witnesses the changes in her community as a result of climate change after working with Woods Hole scientist Max Holmes' research team aboard her father's ship. She gets involved in collecting water samples to learn, and teach her schoolmates about, global warming.

Subject:
Applied Science
Career and Technical Education
Environmental Science
Environmental Studies
Physical Science
Material Type:
Diagram/Illustration
Reading
Provider:
CLEAN: Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network
Provider Set:
CLEAN: Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network
Author:
Lynne Cherry
Young Voices for the Planet
Date Added:
05/15/2012
ArcGIS Living Atlas - Indicators of the Planet
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Living Atlas Indicators of the Planet provide the user with up-to-date data, maps, graphs, charts, animation and other visuals to explore the science of climate and environmental change. 18 indicators from Air Quality to Women in Parliament can be explored.

Subject:
Applied Science
Atmospheric Science
Biology
Career and Technical Education
Ecology
Environmental Science
Environmental Studies
Life Science
Oceanography
Physical Science
Material Type:
Reading
Provider:
CLEAN: Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network
Provider Set:
CLEAN: Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network
Author:
ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World community and partners
ESRI
Date Added:
07/09/2021
Arctic Animals and a Changing Climate
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Learn about the effects of a changing climate on the Arctic ecosystem and four of its well-known mammals: the polar bear, the walrus, the Arctic fox and the beluga whale.

Subject:
Oceanography
Physical Science
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Provider:
PBS
Provider Set:
Jean Michel Costeau: Ocean Adventures
Author:
Andrea Swensrud
Date Added:
07/16/2012
Arctic Climate Perspectives
Unrestricted Use
CC BY
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This video, along with a background essay, focuses on impacts of climate change on the lives of Native Alaskans around Barrow, Alaska. Specific changes include the timing of the changes in the formation and breakout of sea ice and the impacts on subsistence living.

Subject:
Applied Science
Career and Technical Education
Environmental Science
Environmental Studies
Physical Science
Provider:
CLEAN: Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network
Provider Set:
CLEAN: Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network
Author:
U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program and WGBH
Date Added:
06/19/2012
The Arctic: Our First Sign of Climate Change
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Arctic Sea Ice Concentrations for September (Minimum)
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This animation shows the Arctic sea ice September (minimum) extents from 1979-2016. Accessible from http://nsidc.org/cryosphere/sotc/sea_ice.html

Subject:
Applied Science
Career and Technical Education
Environmental Science
Environmental Studies
Oceanography
Physical Science
Provider:
CLEAN: Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network
Provider Set:
CLEAN: Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network
Author:
National Snow and Ice Data Center
Date Added:
09/24/2018
Arctic Sea Ice Is Losing Its Bulwark
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This visualization shows static and animated images of changes in Arctic sea ice 1984-2016.

Subject:
Applied Science
Career and Technical Education
Environmental Science
Environmental Studies
Physical Science
Provider:
CLEAN: Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network
Provider Set:
CLEAN: Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network
Author:
Cindy Starr
NASA Scientific Visualization Studio.
Date Added:
09/24/2018
Arctic Tundra May Contribute to Warmer World
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In this audio slideshow, an ecologist from the University of Florida describes the radiocarbon dating technique that scientists use to determine the amount of carbon within the permafrost of the Arctic tundra. Understanding the rate of carbon released as permafrost thaws is necessary to understand how this positive feedback mechanism is contributing to climate change that may further increase global surface temperatures.

Subject:
Applied Science
Career and Technical Education
Environmental Science
Environmental Studies
Physical Science
Material Type:
Diagram/Illustration
Reading
Provider:
CLEAN: Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network
Provider Set:
CLEAN: Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network
Author:
National Science Foundation
University of Florida
Date Added:
05/15/2012
Arctic Youth Climate Stories
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CC BY-NC
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SYNOPSIS: In this lesson, students learn some of the impacts climate change is having on the Arctic, hear youth perspectives about the impacts of climate change, and write their own personal climate stories.

SCIENTIST NOTES: Students are instructed in this lesson on the effects of climate change on the Arctic region. Temperature increases are hastening the melting of permafrost, glaciers, and sea level rise. This has an effect on the polar ecosystems and human populations. The contrast between how climate change affects the northern and southern regions of the Arctic is also covered in the lesson, along with suggestions for how students may learn and share their experiences to promote climate action. This lesson passed our science review process after all the materials were fact-checked.

POSITIVES:
-This lesson can be used in any middle school writing class and tailored to the specific skills the class is working on.
-This lesson helps students connect climate change to people.
-This lesson highlights a local community in the Arctic and demonstrates the impact storytelling can have.
-This lesson encourages students to participate in the writing process, including the planning and publishing stages.
-This lesson allows teachers to integrate skills specific to their students.

ADDITIONAL PREREQUISITES:
-The Inquire section gallery walk is about the student-made infographics from the previous lesson. Alternatively, teachers can use the infographics from the Teacher Slideshow.
-Students should understand the basics of writing a story. This includes, but is not limited to, characters, setting, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.
-When teaching this lesson teachers should have a baseline understanding of how climate change works and understand some of the impacts in the Arctic.
-In this lesson the term, “story” is consistently used, despite one of the primary standards referring to the term, “narrative.” If students ask to clarify the difference, one way a middle school ELA teacher can differentiate personal narratives from stories is that a personal narrative is a true story whereas a story can be fictionalized.
-For their writing, students will need a basic understanding of the ways climate change is affecting their own communities.

DIFFERENTIATION:
-The final draft of the writing can be used as a summative assessment for this lesson.
-It may be helpful to share a map and show where the Arctic is located if students are unfamiliar.
-Students may need more specific and individual guidance when planning out their writing. Rubrics can be customized for individual students and their learning goals.
-Teachers can give students more time for writing the personal climate story.

Subject:
English Language Arts
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Provider:
SubjectToClimate
Author:
Elizabeth Ward
Jennifer Williams
Date Added:
06/29/2023
The Arctic in Infographics
Conditional Remix & Share Permitted
CC BY-NC
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SYNOPSIS: This lesson introduces students to the impacts of climate change on the Arctic.

SCIENTIST NOTES: This lesson demonstrates the impacts of climate change on the Arctic region and thus provides a background for students to reflect on the causal relationship between temperature changes and ice melting, glaciers, permafrost, and sea level rise. Accordingly, this lesson is interactive, properly cited, and has passed our science credibility.

POSITIVES:
-This lesson situates the Arctic globally and introduces students to people who call the Arctic home, including youth.
-Alongside climate change, students learn about infographics as a way to understand and share information.

ADDITIONAL PREREQUISITES:
-For the game “Is It an Infographic?” game, teachers should present the Teacher Slideshow in slideshow mode to conceal the answer at first glance.
-When teaching this lesson, teachers should have a baseline understanding of how climate change works. This short interactive course offers easy-to-understand information on the basics of climate change.
-Teachers will need to plan ahead for the gallery walk.

DIFFERENTIATION:
-If teachers would like to spend more time on the infographic, both in teaching about infographics as a way to share information and on how to create an infographic, this website is an excellent resource.
-Infographic creation could be digital, adding technology skills to the outcomes, if students have access to technology and the appropriate software.

Subject:
English Language Arts
Physical Geography
Physical Science
Social Science
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Provider:
SubjectToClimate
Author:
Elizabeth Ward
Jennifer Williams
Date Added:
06/29/2023
Are Humans Influencing Modern Climate?
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In this short video, host Dr. Ryan interviews graduate student Amy Steiker at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research about her research, using isotopes of nitrous oxide, connecting human activity to greenhouse gas emissions.

Subject:
Applied Science
Atmospheric Science
Career and Technical Education
Environmental Science
Environmental Studies
Physical Science
Provider:
CLEAN: Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network
Provider Set:
CLEAN: Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network
Author:
Ryan Vachon
University of Colorado Outreach
Date Added:
09/24/2018
Are Other Parts of the World Getting Hotter?
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CC BY-NC
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In this lesson, students investigate whether other parts of the world are changing and getting hotter just like Colorado.

Subject:
Applied Science
Atmospheric Science
Environmental Science
Physical Science
Material Type:
Lesson
Provider:
University of Colorado Boulder
Provider Set:
Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES)
Date Added:
04/05/2018
Are Winters Getting Worse?
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CC BY-NC
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SYNOPSIS: In this lesson, students discover how climate change could be making extreme winter weather worse.

SCIENTIST NOTES: This is a great lesson that explains key drivers of winter storms. Students will learn about the polar vortex and lake effect snow and how they influence the jet stream, air circulation, and polar and mid-latitude climates. The cascading effect is worrisome, especially in vulnerable communities. The class activity will inspire students to communicate ways communities could respond to these weather events. The videos, materials, charts, and datasets embedded in the lesson were fact-checked, and this lesson has passed our science review process.

POSITIVES:
-Connecting climate change and extreme winter weather can feel counterintuitive, which will challenge students' critical thinking skills.
-The lesson provides many opportunities for students to share ideas with their peers.
-This lesson can be taught in an environmental science class.

ADDITIONAL PREREQUISITES:
-Advertisements may play before some of the videos.
-Students should be familiar with climate change, the difference between weather and climate, and the various types of extreme weather.
-Teachers should make it clear that on average, global temperatures are rising even if there is sometimes more extreme cold and snowy weather.
-Teachers should make sure students understand that this lesson is not about if anthropogenic climate change is real. Instead, this lesson is looking at the specific connections between climate change and the polar vortex and lake effect snow.

DIFFERENTIATION:
-For students who may need more support in the Investigate section, classes can create their explanations of the polar vortex and lake effect snow together.
-This lesson could be split over two class periods. In the first class, students would complete the Inquire section and the first half of the Investigate section about the polar vortex. In the second class, students would complete the second half of the Investigate section about lake effect snow and the Inspire section.

Subject:
Geoscience
Physical Science
Space Science
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Provider:
SubjectToClimate
Author:
Effie Albitz
Date Added:
06/30/2023