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US Historical Climate: Excel Statistical

R.M. MacKay, SERC Starting Point

In this intermediate Excel activity, students import US Historical Climate Network mean temperature data into Excel from a station of their choice. They are then guided through the activity on how to use Excel for statistical calculations, graphing, and linear trend estimates. The activity assumes some familiarity with Excel and graphing in Excel.

Activity will take about two hours depending on the familiarity with Excel.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Climate Literacy

This Activity builds on the following concepts of Climate Literacy.

Click a topic below for supporting information, teaching ideas, and sample activities.

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:C) Collecting information
Other materials addressing:
C) Collecting 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

  • Educator has to be careful to not allow students to draw too broad of conclusions from one station. For example, a given station may indicate a cooling trend even though the globe as a whole is warming.
  • Students unfamiliar with Excel should complete an introductory Excel activity (see resources listed in activity) before working through this activity.
  • Students should be able to work through this activity at home or in a computer lab with no supervision.

About the Content

  • Students work with real data for their home region.
  • Data used in the activity is only available until 1994, which is acceptable given the activity is about historic data, but certainly not ideal. More recent data is available on the USHCN Website so the educator can update the activity.

About the Pedagogy

  • Activity is primarily a mathematical skill builder, using data from a scientific database.
  • Questions posed in the instructions at various points in the activity help keep students on track and help them to abstract from the presented data and see the reason for the statistical analysis.
  • Activity relies heavily on Excel knowledge and skills - could be a disadvantage for some less tech-savy students.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Very extensive Excel instructions and good links for further reading/help.
  • Getting current data from the interface is fast and responsive for getting data plots.
  • All required materials are downloadable from site.
Entered the Collection: February 2012 Last Reviewed: July 2016

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