According to forecasters, An Arctic outbreak will bring the coldest temperatures of the season…By the end of the week, more than two-thirds of the U.S. will see below-average temperatures.
Such weather might have you wondering, “Is global warming really happening?” But weather (conditions right now) is not the same as climate (conditions over a long-period of time).
“For years, climate contrarians have pointed to snowfall and cold weather to question the scientific reality of human-induced climate change. Such misinformation obscures the work scientists are doing to figure out just how climate change is affecting weather patterns year-round.” (National Geographic)
Help your students understand the scientific investigations that have led scientists to conclude that climate change is happening.
The book How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate presents scientific information about our earth’s changing climate in an age-appropriate manner, with clarity and hope.
LESSON PLAN: How We Know
Suggested Grade Level: 5-8
Procedure: Download a pdf that includes complete directions for two lessons from A Teacher’s Guide to How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate.
Lesson 1. Disappearing Glaciers
(scroll to page 6 of the pdf; page 19 of the teacher’s guide)
Glaciers grow, move, and retreat in response to changing climate. By studying glaciers and comparing contemporary observations with historical and environmental
records, glaciologists get clues about global processes
Lonnie Thompson, the glaciologist featured on page 31 of the book, has spent more time above 18,000 feet than any other person on Earth. “No scientist has taken bigger risks to track ancient weather patterns and help us understand the anomaly of current climate trends,” says Al Gore.
Lesson 2. Life in the Greenhouse
(scroll to page 10 of the pdf; page 28 of the teacher’s guide)
The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere provides one of the most significant clues about climate change. The graphs on page 39 of the book show the correlation between an increase of CO2 in the atmosphere and an increase in the average global temperature. But why does more CO2 in the air correlate to a higher temperature? To answer that question, it’s necessary to understand the carbon cycle and CO2’s role as a greenhouse gas.
Extension: Cool Tools
Meteorologists use tools to gather weather information, such as anemometers to measure wind speed, barometers to measure air pressure, and thermometers to measure temperature. Using simple materials, your students can make these tools and use them to collect data and/or conduct experiments.
Get complete directions for building and using weather tools at the Scholastic website.
Common Core Standards (ELA K-3)
- Reading: Informational Text:
- Key Ideas and Details: 5.1, 6.1
- Craft and Structure: 5.4, 6.4, 7.4, 8.4
- Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: 5.8
Next Generation Science Standards (DCI K-3)
- ESS2:Earth’s Systems
- ESS3: Earth and Human Activity