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Pollen and Climate Change
http://serc.carleton.edu/eet/pollen/index.html

John Pickle, Becca Kranz, Katharina Frazier, TERC

In this activity, students study the relationship between changing climate conditions and the distribution of plants across North America, using a unique tool called the Pollen Viewer. This tool allows the user to animate the retreat of the North American glacier and the migration of plant species during the waning period of the most recent Ice Age.

Activity takes 2-3 hours.

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Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Individual organisms survive within specific ranges of temperature, precipitation, humidity, and sunlight. Organisms exposed to climate conditions outside their normal range must adapt or migrate, or they will perish.
About Teaching Principle 3
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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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Environmental observations are the foundation for understanding the climate system. From the bottom of the ocean to the surface of the Sun, instruments on weather stations, buoys, satellites, and other platforms collect climate data. To learn about past climates, scientists use natural records, such as tree rings, ice cores, and sedimentary layers. Historical observations, such as native knowledge and personal journals, also document past climate change.
About Teaching Principle 5
Other materials addressing 5b

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

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

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.
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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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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
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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

  • Instructional strategies provided in Teaching Notes page.

About the Science

  • Students learn about plant response to changing climate conditions across North America.
  • Comments from expert scientist: The exercise takes students through the process of working with the actual numerical data, which is a very important hands-on skill for students to develop. This exercise also pools together information from several different credible sources, making one very complete (and therefore more useful) learning exercise.

About the Pedagogy

  • Four-part activity in which students select a region to study and collect data about plant abundance across a period of time. After importing that data into a spreadsheet program, students produce graphs that highlight how plant communities have responded to regional climate change across that period.
  • Carefully scripted activity provides step-by-step instructions with show/hide boxes to help guide students in accessing, downloading, formatting, and analyzing data using Pollen Viewer tool and Excel.
  • Has a "Going Further" section that provides ideas on how to use the techniques from this lessons to study other datasets.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Check when viewing images to be sure to select .gif as the file type, as they are not formatted in .jpg.
  • Familiarity with Excel is needed.
  • Requires internet connection and ability to download software and images.

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