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Climographs: Temperature, Precipitation, and the Human Condition

National Geographic Xpeditions Archive

In this activity, students learn how to read, analyze, and construct climographs. These climographs are a graphic way of displaying monthly average temperature and precipitation. Students also practice matching climographs to various locations and summarize global-scale climate patterns revealed by comparing climographs.

Activity takes about four to six hours.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Activity supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 1 Disciplinary Core Idea, 3 Cross Cutting Concepts, 6 Science and Engineering Practices
High School: 1 Disciplinary Core Idea, 3 Cross Cutting Concepts, 3 Science and Engineering Practices

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

World's climate definition
About Teaching Principle 2
Other materials addressing 2a
Climate's role in habitats ranges and adaptation of species to climate changes
About Teaching Principle 3
Other materials addressing 3a
Definition of climate and climatic regions
About Teaching Principle 4
Other materials addressing 4a
Climate is not the same thing as weather – defining difference
About Teaching Principle 4
Other materials addressing 4b

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:E) Organizing information
Other materials addressing:
E) Organizing information.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:A) Processes that shape the Earth
Other materials addressing:
A) Processes that shape the Earth.

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Perhaps go through African geography with class to familiarize them with the continent vs countries vs cities in Africa.
  • Students may need direction in converting inches to centimeters and Fahrenheit to Celsius.
  • Students may need help reading and creating graphs, e.g., dealing with changing ranges on y-axes.
  • Not all the vocabulary is related, but may still be useful.
  • MapMaker interactive tool may be useful in other activities.
  • Can teach about/highlight seasonality in different hemispheres using this activity.
  • Can compare past data to current data (e.g. compare last 10 yrs to last 50 yrs) to look more into climate change and interpreting their graphs.
  • Could link activity to climate normals data.

About the Science

  • Well-structured, clear use of basic climate information to help students build general climate patterns on the planet. Excellent activity for students to gain practice working with data and x-y plots.

About the Pedagogy

  • Learning is carefully scaffolded so that students understand climate zones and what can be gleaned from analyzing climate data.
  • Builds critical thinking skills through making hypotheses before actually doing the activity.
  • Includes relevance to agricultural and human health issues.
  • Builds quantitative skills and data analysis skills.
  • Uses real data.
  • Has thoughtful questions and assessment suggestions.
  • Conversion of units is addressed.
  • Excellent resource with great links to additional materials.
  • Direction for addressing diverse students is included.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Detailed instructions and worksheets are provided.
  • The African climate zones link does not work.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 1

MS-ESS2.D1:Weather and climate are influenced by interactions involving sunlight, the ocean, the atmosphere, ice, landforms, and living things. These interactions vary with latitude, altitude, and local and regional geography, all of which can affect oceanic and atmospheric flow patterns.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 3

Stability and Change, Patterns

MS-C7.1: Explanations of stability and change in natural or designed systems can be constructed by examining the changes over time and forces at different scales, including the atomic scale.

MS-C1.2: Patterns in rates of change and other numerical relationships can provide information about natural and human designed systems

MS-C1.4:Graphs, charts, and images can be used to identify patterns in data.

Science and Engineering Practices: 6

Analyzing and Interpreting Data, Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

MS-P4.1:Construct, analyze, and/or interpret graphical displays of data and/or large data sets to identify linear and nonlinear relationships.

MS-P4.2:Use graphical displays (e.g., maps, charts, graphs, and/or tables) of large data sets to identify temporal and spatial relationships.

MS-P4.4:Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for phenomena.

MS-P5.1: Use digital tools (e.g., computers) to analyze very large data sets for patterns and trends.

MS-P6.1:Construct an explanation that includes qualitative or quantitative relationships between variables that predict(s) and/or describe(s) phenomena.

MS-P8.2:Integrate qualitative and/or quantitative scientific and/or technical information in written text with that contained in media and visual displays to clarify claims and findings.

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 1

HS-ESS2.D1:The foundation for Earth’s global climate systems is the electromagnetic radiation from the sun, as well as its reflection, absorption, storage, and redistribution among the atmosphere, ocean, and land systems, and this energy’s re-radiation into space.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 3

Patterns, Energy and Matter, Stability and Change

HS-C1.4: Mathematical representations are needed to identify some patterns.

HS-C5.2:Changes of energy and matter in a system can be described in terms of energy and matter flows into, out of, and within that system.

HS-C7.1:Much of science deals with constructing explanations of how things change and how they remain stable.

Science and Engineering Practices: 3

Analyzing and Interpreting Data, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

HS-P4.1:Analyze data using tools, technologies, and/or models (e.g., computational, mathematical) in order to make valid and reliable scientific claims or determine an optimal design solution.

HS-P6.1:Make a quantitative and/or qualitative claim regarding the relationship between dependent and independent variables.

HS-P8.2:Compare, integrate and evaluate sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a scientific question or solve a problem.

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