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Normal Climate Patterns

Betsy Youngman, LuAnn Dahlman, Earthlabs from TERC

This activity develops students' understanding of climate by having them make in-depth examinations of historical climate patterns using both graphical and map image formats rather than presenting a general definition of climate. Students explore local climate in order to inform a pen pal what type of weather to expect during an upcoming visit. Students generate and explore a variety of graphs, charts, and map images and interpret them to develop an understanding of climate.

Activity takes two 50-minute class periods. Computer access for each student group is necessary.

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.
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

  • Google Earth must be installed prior to activity.
  • There is a link from the teacher support materials for the lab to the student materials but no link the other way.
  • Educator should be aware that units are not specific on the axes. It is implicit in the annual data below the climographs, but it should be on the axes, especially for precipitation, whose units people are not necessarily familiar with.
  • There is a high language load so the educator may need to spend time developing vocabulary.

About the Science

  • The resource uses digitally available data that is up to date.
  • The web pages for each lab contain links to external sites to access data, graphs, and/or articles.
  • Student has control over the selection of data to produce the graphs.
  • Allows students to compare climates in different regions to understand normal conditions, seasonal variations, etc.
  • Comment from scientist: Weather extremes are not mentioned appropriately in the activity. In terms of what you should advise a friend to pack, the extremes are important in terms of being prepared. This is touched on in the presentation of the high/low temperature plots but isn't really discussed.
  • Comment from scientist: The climographs don't use metric units, probably because of the students' familiarity with English units; but it would be good to introduce metric also as this is the standard for science.

About the Pedagogy

  • The activity introduces climographs and shows students how to analyze data.
  • The activity teaches computer skills such as how to take screen shots and put them into documents.
  • This investigative lesson is relevant and student centered.
  • The activity has good formative assessment questions.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The activity has clear directions on how to access local data.

Related URLs These related sites were noted by our reviewers but have not been reviewed by CLEAN

Entered the Collection: February 2012 Last Reviewed: July 2016

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