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What are the causes and effects of ENSO?

Sarah Bednarz, Texas AM University, From the On The Cutting Edge activity collection

This activity addresses naturally occurring climate change involving ENSO (El-Niño Southern Oscillation). In this activity, students play the role of a policy maker in Peru. First, they determine what sort of ENSO variation is occurring. Then, they must decide how to allocate Peru's resources to manage for possible weather-related problems.

Activity takes five to six 45-minute class periods.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Activity supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
High School: 1 Performance Expectation, 1 Disciplinary Core Idea, 5 Cross Cutting Concepts, 5 Science and Engineering Practices

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Climate change vs. climate variability and patterns
About Teaching Principle 4
Other materials addressing 4c
Changes in climate is normal but varies over times/ space
About Teaching Principle 4
Other materials addressing 4d

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

    This lesson revolves around the driving question of "What are the causes and effects of ENSO?"
  • Students learn about some of the possible economic impacts of El Niño using Peru as an example.
  • Students understand the various policies that the Peruvian government could establish to mitigate the negative economic impacts from El Niño.
  • Students learn how to analyze satellite data as presented on a map.
  • Student hone oral presentation and group collaboration skills.

About the Science

  • Students learn about ENSO and then role play policy makers who must decide how to allocate Peru's resources to manage possible ENSO related problems.
  • Background information provided in the form of briefings, which are integrated into the activities at appropriate times. Students use the briefings to analyze data and write their responses in logs.
  • Weather-effects maps from NOAA and NASA allow analysis.
  • Comment from expert scientist: This activity seems fun for students and involves hands-on learning, at home and in the classroom. Students build conceptual understandings by reviewing the data and phenomenon from multiple sources and locations and have to apply what they have discovered. By including the methods of measurement used in examining ENSO phases, students get an opportunity to address the problem in a real world manner.

About the Pedagogy

  • Students use their learning about ENSO to take the role of a policy maker in Peru. Students determine how to allocate resources based on predicted weather and climate.
  • Lesson contains worksheet-type work along with the role playing game.
  • Lesson seems well-scaffolded and organized in a way to allow students to build and use their knowledge.
  • Assessment is likely based on the student presentations and worksheet, although this is vague in the lesson plan.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • All materials printable.
  • Color printing is necessary for the maps and briefing sheets.
  • Information on second and third investigations are not included.
  • All material available in download.

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

Direct link for this activity is: http://www.missiongeography.org/III-3-1.pdf. The entire collection of mission geography is at: http://www.missiongeography.org/revcrit.htm#912

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:

High School

Performance Expectations: 1

HS-ESS2-2: Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth's surface can create feedbacks that cause changes to other Earth systems.

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 1

HS-ESS2.A1:Earth’s systems, being dynamic and interacting, cause feedback effects that can increase or decrease the original changes.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 5

Patterns, Cause and effect, Scale, Proportion and Quantity, Systems and System Models, Stability and Change

HS-C1.1:Different patterns may be observed at each of the scales at which a system is studied and can provide evidence for causality in explanations of phenomena

HS-C2.1:Empirical evidence is required to differentiate between cause and correlation and make claims about specific causes and effects.

HS-C3.1:The significance of a phenomenon is dependent on the scale, proportion, and quantity at which it occurs.

HS-C4.3:Models (e.g., physical, mathematical, computer models) can be used to simulate systems and interactions—including energy, matter, and information flows—within and between systems at different scales.

HS-C7.1:Much of science deals with constructing explanations of how things change and how they remain stable.

Science and Engineering Practices: 5

Asking Questions and Defining Problems, Analyzing and Interpreting Data, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, Engaging in Argument from Evidence, Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

HS-P1.1:Ask questions that arise from careful observation of phenomena, or unexpected results, to clarify and/or seek additional information.

HS-P4.1:Analyze data using tools, technologies, and/or models (e.g., computational, mathematical) in order to make valid and reliable scientific claims or determine an optimal design solution.

HS-P6.2:Construct and revise an explanation based on valid and reliable evidence obtained from a variety of sources (including students’ own investigations, models, theories, simulations, peer review) and the assumption that theories and laws that describe the natural world operate today as they did in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

HS-P7.1:Compare and evaluate competing arguments or design solutions in light of currently accepted explanations, new evidence, limitations (e.g., trade-offs), constraints, and ethical issues

HS-P8.5:Communicate scientific and/or technical information or ideas (e.g. about phenomena and/or the process of development and the design and performance of a proposed process or system) in multiple formats (i.e., orally, graphically, textually, mathematically).

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