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Alaska SeaGrant, Alaska Seas and Rivers Curriculum

This activity engages learners in exploring the impact of climate change on arctic sea ice in the Bering Sea. They graph and analyze sea ice extent data, conduct a lab on thermal expansion of water, and then observe how a scientist collects long-term data on a bird population.

Activity takes five to six class periods. Video streaming capability is necessary.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Activity supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 1 Performance Expectation, 2 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 6 Cross Cutting Concepts, 9 Science and Engineering Practices

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Strategies of human adaptation to climate change
About Teaching the Guiding Principle
Other materials addressing GPf
Sunlight warms the planet
About Teaching Principle 1
Other materials addressing 1a
Sea level rise and resulting impacts is due to melting ice and thermal expansion and increases the risk
About Teaching Principle 7
Other materials addressing 7a
Ecosystems on land and in the ocean have been and will continue to be disturbed by climate change
About Teaching Principle 7
Other materials addressing 7e

Energy Literacy

Environmental quality is impacted by energy choices.
Other materials addressing:
7.3 Environmental quality.
Some populations are more vulnerable to impacts of energy choices than others.
Other materials addressing:
7.6 Vulnerable populations.
The energy of a system or object that results in its temperature is called thermal energy.
Other materials addressing:
1.2 Thermal energy.

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:B) Designing investigations
Other materials addressing:
B) Designing investigations.
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.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:C) Energy
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C) Energy.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.3 Humans and Their Societies:D) Global Connections
Other materials addressing:
D) Global Connections.

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

  • There is an easy link to a very comprehensive teacher background section. In the NSIDC sea ice index visual, teachers should make sure that students can read and understand the bits of critical information at the top of each visual and that the right-hand visual represents a baseline at the beginning of collecting time.
  • NSIDC sea ice index is updated here: http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/
  • Also, Arctic Sea ice is tracked daily here at NSIDC: http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

About the Science

  • The sea ice activity is the first of five investigations in which which students explore different impacts of climate change on arctic sea ice and the Bering Sea.
  • After they graph and analyze sea ice extent data, students explore thermal expansion of water as a lab and then observe how a scientist collects long-term data on a bird population.
  • Comments from expert scientist:The lesson demonstrates how Arctic sea ice is changing and helps students understand how those changes may impact climate, wildlife, and human activities.
  • It would be good to add mention of another part of the world's ice whose melt does affect sea level - namely land ice - the ice sheets and glaciers, and it could be demonstrated by dropping ice cubes into the water.

About the Pedagogy

  • Teachers should consider all of the investigations in this unit on Arctic Sea Ice. There is a lot of flexibility built into this series of investigations.
  • Teachers can use specific investigations or the entire set. Additionally there are multiple resources to choose from.
  • The teacher background section is very comprehensive.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Sea Ice animation may work only in Chrome as it treats it as a download.
  • This link takes you to the Sea Ice Index Animation Tool https://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/archives/image_select.html, if you can't access the animation linked to in the activity pdf.
  • Capacity of available computers to stream videos may be a concern for some schools.

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

alternate link for Alaskan Native thoughts on Climate Change video http://passporttoknowledge.com/polar-palooza/pp06healy03.php

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:

Middle School

Performance Expectations: 1

MS-ESS3-5:Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 2

MS-ESS3.D1:Human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (global warming). Reducing the level of climate change and reducing human vulnerability to whatever climate changes do occur depend on the understanding of climate science, engineering capabilities, and other kinds of knowledge, such as understanding of human behavior and on applying that knowledge wisely in decisions and activities.

MS-LS2.C1:Ecosystems are dynamic in nature; their characteristics can vary over time. Disruptions to any physical or biological component of an ecosystem can lead to shifts in all its populations.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 6

Energy and Matter, Stability and Change, Patterns, Cause and effect

MS-C1.2: Patterns in rates of change and other numerical relationships can provide information about natural and human designed systems

MS-C1.4:Graphs, charts, and images can be used to identify patterns in data.

MS-C2.2:Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems.

MS-C5.2: Within a natural or designed system, the transfer of energy drives the motion and/or cycling of matter.

MS-C5.4:The transfer of energy can be tracked as energy flows through a designed or natural system.

MS-C7.4:Systems in dynamic equilibrium are stable due to a balance of feedback mechanisms.

Science and Engineering Practices: 9

Analyzing and Interpreting Data, Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

MS-P4.1:Construct, analyze, and/or interpret graphical displays of data and/or large data sets to identify linear and nonlinear relationships.

MS-P4.2:Use graphical displays (e.g., maps, charts, graphs, and/or tables) of large data sets to identify temporal and spatial relationships.

MS-P4.3: Distinguish between causal and correlational relationships in data.

MS-P4.4:Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for phenomena.

MS-P5.1: Use digital tools (e.g., computers) to analyze very large data sets for patterns and trends.

MS-P5.2:Use mathematical representations to describe and/or support scientific conclusions and design solutions

MS-P6.1:Construct an explanation that includes qualitative or quantitative relationships between variables that predict(s) and/or describe(s) phenomena.

MS-P6.5:Apply scientific reasoning to show why the data or evidence is adequate for the explanation or conclusion

MS-P8.5:Communicate scientific and/or technical information (e.g. about a proposed object, tool, process, system) in writing and/or through oral presentations.

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