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Phenology and Biology of Climate Change Investigation

Digital RMBL (Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory)

This lesson is an investigation of the impact of climate change on the phenology of a variety of taxa, including migrating birds and hibernating animals in the Colorado Rockies. Students analyze 40 years of data collected by Billy Barr from the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory.

Activity takes 3-4 class periods.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

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
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Climate is not the same thing as weather – defining difference
About Teaching Principle 4
Other materials addressing 4b
Observations are the foundation for understanding the climate system
About Teaching Principle 5
Other materials addressing 5b

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks

Scientific investigations usually involve the collection of relevant data, the use of logical reasoning, and the application of imagination in devising hypotheses and explanations to make sense of the collected data.
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark
The earth has a variety of climates, defined by average temperature, precipitation, humidity, air pressure, and wind, over time in a particular place.
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark
The world contains a wide diversity of physical conditions, which creates a wide variety of environments: freshwater, marine, forest, desert, grassland, mountain, and others. In any particular environment, the growth and survival of organisms depend on the physical conditions
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark

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

  • Follow the guidance and show the video and the audio piece along with the slides.
  • Educator should take care to be familiar and comfortable with the visualization tool before introducing it to students.
  • Educators may be interested in link to The Create Approach, which is referenced in the opening page of the activity. In this approach, students are immersed in a series of papers that show the evolution of research from a research group. They are given sections of the paper in order, without the title, abstract, discussion or authors’ names until they fully analyze the methods and results. The goal is to “develop each student’s ability to think like a scientist in terms of designing experiments, analyzing and interpreting data, and critically evaluating results as well as proposed follow-up experiments."

About the Science

  • Activity uses actual data and scientific publications from the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Colorado. Actual field data in Excel table. Multiple good, supporting multimedia pieces, such as video, visualization tool, and newspaper articles.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • Very content-rich, classroom-tested activity with lots of supporting materials. Educator should explore all the given links and will be able to make a strong lesson in which students work with actual data and compare their results to the publications. Students will probably need help with Excel in graphing the data.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Organization on website is not intuitive. The link to the actual lesson and module is given at the top of the page but not repeated at the example lesson.
  • Students need Excel and access to a computer so they can use the visualization data tool.
  • Visualization tool is difficult to interpret but provides good source of investigations.

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