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Investigating Weather and Climate with Google Earth
http://www.ei.lehigh.edu/eli/cc/sequence/day2.html

Environmental Literacy and Inquiry Working Group at Lehigh University

In this activity, students use Google Earth to explore global temperature changes during a recent 50 - 58 year period. They also explore, analyze, and interpret climate patterns of 13 different cities, and analyze differences between weather and climate patterns.

Activity takes one to two lesson periods (possibly homework assignment).

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Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Climate is determined by the long-term pattern of temperature and precipitation averages and extremes at a location. Climate descriptions can refer to areas that are local, regional, or global in extent. Climate can be described for different time intervals, such as decades, years, seasons, months, or specific dates of the year.
About Teaching Principle 4
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Climate change is a significant and persistent change in an area’s average climate conditions or their extremes. Seasonal variations and multi-year cycles (for example, the El Niño Southern Oscillation) that produce warm, cool, wet, or dry periods across different regions are a natural part of climate variability. They do not represent climate change.
About Teaching Principle 4
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Scientific observations indicate that global climate has changed in the past, is changing now, and will change in the future. The magnitude and direction of this change is not the same at all locations on Earth.
About Teaching Principle 4
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Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

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

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks

The earth has a variety of climates, defined by average temperature, precipitation, humidity, air pressure, and wind, over time in a particular place.
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The earth's climates have changed in the past, are currently changing, and are expected to change in the future, primarily due to changes in the amount of light reaching places on the earth and the composition of the atmosphere. The burning of fossil fuels in the last century has increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which has contributed to Earth's warming.
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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

  • Encourage students to recognize that, on a whole, the trends observed for the cities need to be averaged, not taken individually, with all the other stations worldwide.
  • Jigsaw the cities.

About the Science

  • This is one in a technology-supported series of inquiry activities focusing on a range of environmental science topics using Google Earth.
  • No reference is given to the source of the climate data in the kmz file.
  • Some background information for teacher provided.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Students gain experience in graph reading, geography, examining temperature trends over time, and evaluating evidence that supports surface warming trends.

About the Pedagogy

  • All student supporting materials are available online. For educators to access the suggested assessments, they need to log into http://www.ei.lehigh.edu with a password.
  • Using Google Earth will likely engage students of different learning styles.
  • Instructions for students are well-written and clear.
  • This activity is part of a curriculum - background information is listed on the homepage of the entire curriculum http://www.ei.lehigh.edu/eli/cc/index.html
  • This is a technology-supported middle school science inquiry curriculum emphasizing weather and climate using Google Earth web- based tools. Curriculum has been pilot tested in urban middle school classrooms.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Educators might need to review how to integrate Google Earth technology into their classroom instruction.

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