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Investigating Weather and Climate with Google Earth

Environmental Literacy and Inquiry Working Group at Lehigh University

In this activity, students use Google Earth to explore global temperature changes during a recent 50 - 58 year period. They also explore, analyze, and interpret climate patterns of 13 different cities, and analyze differences between weather and climate patterns.

Activity takes one to two lesson periods (possibly homework assignment).

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Grade Level

Middle school students could take this as it stands with guidance. High school students could benefit from taking this a step further.

Regional Focus

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

  • Encourage students to recognize that, on a whole, the trends observed for the cities need to be averaged, not taken individually, with all the other stations worldwide.
  • Jigsaw the cities.

About the Science

  • This is one in a technology-supported series of inquiry activities focusing on a range of environmental science topics using Google Earth.
  • No reference is given to the source of the climate data in the kmz file.
  • Some background information for teacher provided.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Students gain experience in graph reading, geography, examining temperature trends over time, and evaluating evidence that supports surface warming trends.

About the Pedagogy

  • All student supporting materials are available online. For educators to access the suggested assessments, they need to log into http://www.ei.lehigh.edu with a password.
  • Using Google Earth will likely engage students of different learning styles.
  • Instructions for students are well-written and clear.
  • This activity is part of a curriculum - background information is listed on the homepage of the entire curriculum http://www.ei.lehigh.edu/eli/cc/index.html
  • This is a technology-supported middle school science inquiry curriculum emphasizing weather and climate using Google Earth web- based tools. Curriculum has been pilot tested in urban middle school classrooms.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Educators might need to review how to integrate Google Earth technology into their classroom instruction.
Entered the Collection: October 2014 Last Reviewed: October 2014

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