Jump to this Activity »
Changes in Our Local Environment

Alaska Seas and Rivers Curriculum, Alaska Sea Grant

In this activity, students research changes to the environment in the Arctic/Bering Sea over time using oral and photographic histories. Developed for Alaska Native students, this activity can be customized for other regions.

Activity takes 9 to 11 class periods with possibility of some of this accomplished as outside work.

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:2.2 The Living Environment:A) Organisms, populations, and communities
Other materials addressing:
A) Organisms, populations, and communities.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.2 The Living Environment:C) Systems and connections
Other materials addressing:
C) Systems and connections.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.3 Humans and Their Societies:B) Culture
Other materials addressing:
B) Culture.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:B) Places
Other materials addressing:
B) Places.

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 is easily adaptable for other communities in the world.
  • Instructor may want to provide students with a scoring rubric that outlines science and research content.
  • The research project/interview and presentation can be tied together by inviting the elders and other community members to the school to see the finished posters or student work. (A similar step is done in the evaluation and extension of curricular connections)
  • Reviewing the differences between weather and climate at the beginning of the activity is highly recommended.
  • Community-based and could be combined with community mapping projects.

About the Content

  • Comments from expert scientist: activity treads the line between cultural and scientific knowledge, and in doing so places equal weight on personal interpretation of observations. Very little actual data-driven science is involved, but that's not the point.
  • Activity certainly bridges the gap between climate change as a phenomena and cultural knowledge, and if pulled off could be very interesting at both educating the students and the community at large.
  • The photo project especially has good potential to make climate change "real" to a young group of kids.

About the Pedagogy

  • This is an open-ended inquiry based activity.
  • Students gain expertise in interview techniques and comparing historic environmental photos with recent photos. There is a great deal of support for the teachers and students in terms of interview and photo comparison techniques. These are some of the techniques being employed by scientists today to explore changes in climate.
  • Uses the 5E/ inquiry model.
  • Builds writing and communication skills.
  • Students interact with elder and community members in a non-teaching situation and learn how to interview people.
  • Nine to eleven class periods is a long time to spend on such a project, but there are many skills being learned and explored in these open-ended activities. In addition, it may be possible to decrease the class periods needed by encouraging students to complete much of the work as homework or an out-of-class project.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Several of the resource links listed in the activity are no longer functional.
  • Historic photos may need to be collected and scanned in if possible. There are video and image resources available but teachers and students will probably need to find some local historic images and scan them in.
Entered the Collection: May 2012 Last Reviewed: June 2016

Jump to this Activity »