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Sap Flow

EarthLabs, TERC

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This interactive map shows the impact of a changing climate on maple syrup sap production. Students can explore the changes in production under two different emissions scenarios.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Simulation/Interactive supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 1 Disciplinary Core Idea, 3 Cross Cutting Concepts, 6 Science and Engineering Practices
High School: 1 Disciplinary Core Idea, 2 Cross Cutting Concepts, 4 Science and Engineering Practices

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Climate models are robust enough to be used for guiding decision and actions as response to climate change
About Teaching Principle 5
Other materials addressing 5e
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

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

  • Interactive could be used as a motivating context for introducing a unit on emissions and climate change.
  • Students can collect data through interactive and create a data table that displays comparisons among all locations.
  • Have students find the temperature differences at each site given both low and high emission scenarios.

About the Science

  • An interactive graphic that demonstrates the impacts of climate change on maple syrup sap production in the Northeast.
  • 5 different locations in the Northeast are featured.
  • Students have different scenarios to change and visualize the effects of emissions rates and temperature on the window of sap production.
  • The graphic alone does not explain the reasoning behind the changes. Have students read the article about sap flow in the 'more info' section.
  • Suggestions from expert scientist: Educators could assign a small number of questions that students can investigate first on their own, and then confirm by clicking the "official" answer. E.g. things like: "Will there be an effect on timing only, or also on yield? If so, does it regionally differ?"
  • Comment from expert scientist: The map does not match the spatial trend described in the second-to-last paragraph of the supporting article ("Maple production south of Pennsylvania will likely be lost by 2100 due to lack of freezing, while production in Quebec may benefit from climate changes"). In this way, the graphic may not match the text of the article. Without seeing the original research it is hard to say which one is accurate. That said, the map projections are for 2080, not 2100.

About the Pedagogy

  • Visualization encourages students to make connections between climate and the scientific research that predicts how these changes will effect our environment.
  • Very location-specific but could be made relevant elsewhere by (a) bringing prices into it, or (b) talking about local syrup production and how climate change might affect it (e.g. in upper Midwest).
  • Sap flow/run changes are one of several issues we experience with climate change, this could be useful as a starting example to promote exploration of others.
  • Instructor may want to use this to further explore economic or biological impacts of climate change on sap flow (why does this matter; how else does climate affect the tree?).
  • The 'more info' button links to additional background context for educators.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Easy and intuitive to use.
  • Graphics are are sterile but clean and sharp.
  • The link to Data Source and Credits > Temperature Maps actually leads to contextual supporting info for understanding emissions scenarios and sap flow, not just temperature maps.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Simulation/Interactive supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 1

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.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 3

Cause and effect

MS-C2.1:Relationships can be classified as causal or correlational, and correlation does not necessarily imply causation.

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

MS-C2.3:Phenomena may have more than one cause, and some cause and effect relationships in systems can only be described using probability.

Science and Engineering Practices: 6

Analyzing and Interpreting Data, Asking Questions and Defining Problems

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

MS-P1.2:ask questions to identify and/or clarify evidence and/or the premise(s) of an argument.

MS-P1.3:Ask questions to determine relationships between independent and dependent variables and relationships in models.

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.

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 1

HS-ESS3.D1:Though the magnitudes of human impacts are greater than they have ever been, so too are human abilities to model, predict, and manage current and future impacts.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 2

Cause and effect

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

HS-C2.2:Cause and effect relationships can be suggested and predicted for complex natural and human designed systems by examining what is known about smaller scale mechanisms within the system.

Science and Engineering Practices: 4

Asking Questions and Defining Problems, Analyzing and Interpreting Data

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

HS-P1.2:ask questions that arise from examining models or a theory, to clarify and/or seek additional information and relationships.

HS-P1.3:ask questions to determine relationships, including quantitative relationships, between independent and dependent variables

HS-P4.3:Consider limitations of data analysis (e.g., measurement error, sample selection) when analyzing and interpreting data

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