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Arctic Climate Curriculum, Activity 2: Do you really want to visit the Arctic?

Karin Kirk, Anne Gold, CIRES Education and Outreach; University of Colorado Boulder

In this jigsaw activity, students explore meteorological data collected from Eureka, Canada to try to decide when would be the best time for an Arctic visit.

Activity takes about two 50-minute class periods.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Activity supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 2 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 3 Cross Cutting Concepts, 5 Science and Engineering Practices
High School: 3 Cross Cutting Concepts, 5 Science and Engineering Practices

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Sunlight warms the planet
About Teaching Principle 1
Other materials addressing 1a
Equilibrium and feedback loops in climate system
About Teaching Principle 2
Other materials addressing 2f
Climate is not the same thing as weather – defining difference
About Teaching Principle 4
Other materials addressing 4b
Climate change vs. climate variability and patterns
About Teaching Principle 4
Other materials addressing 4c
Observations are the foundation for understanding the climate system
About Teaching Principle 5
Other materials addressing 5b

Energy Literacy

Earth's weather and climate is mostly driven by energy from the Sun.
Other materials addressing:
2.3 Earth's climate driven by the Sun.

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

  • Consider doing Activity 1 of the series prior to this one to introduce students to the Arctic.
  • Educator may have to help explain some misunderstandings about the nature of the Arctic that may come from students unfamiliar with the differences in seasons there compared to the mid-latitudes.

About the Science

  • This activity gets students to consider what it would mean to travel to the Arctic, basing their choice on what time of the year to visit by exploring data on monthly wind speed, temperature, snow pack, and solar radiation. Students have to think how the Arctic is different from their local region, how seasons might be determined in the Arctic, and consider what causes the changes in wind, snow, temperature and sunlight. Students are encouraged to form a measurable definition of winter.
  • Comments from expert scientist: It is an interesting, engaging activity, that puts students in the position of researchers working on various projects in Canada. They learn to read and interpret graphs of weather data. This particular activity seems to focus on weather rather than climate. Climate data rather than 1 year of weather data could be used for the same purpose without the need for major alterations. Alternatively it should be ensured that the students understand the difference between climate and weather. The activity focuses on one land based research site. I would suggest that it is possible to use data from different sites

About the Pedagogy

  • Activity is the second activity of a three-part instructional sequence.
  • Uses jigsaw approach: groups of students research one of 4 climate indicators (wind speed, surface temperature, snow depth, incoming solar radiation) at a location in the Arctic, then regroup with others to decide optimal time of year to visit this site based on a particular research question for which they need to collect data at the site.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Educators are provided a basic guide online.
  • Complete answer key is available to teachers per email request.

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

Use this url to go to the full curriculum: http://cires.colorado.edu/education-outreach/resources/curriculum/arctic-climate-connections/.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 2

MS-ESS2.D1:Weather and climate are influenced by interactions involving sunlight, the ocean, the atmosphere, ice, landforms, and living things. These interactions vary with latitude, altitude, and local and regional geography, all of which can affect oceanic and atmospheric flow patterns.

MS-ESS2.D2:Because these patterns are so complex, weather can only be predicted probabilistically.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 3

Stability and Change, Patterns, Cause and effect

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

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

MS-C7.1: Explanations of stability and change in natural or designed systems can be constructed by examining the changes over time and forces at different scales, including the atomic scale.

Science and Engineering Practices: 5

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

MS-P1.5:Ask questions that require sufficient and appropriate empirical evidence to answer.

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

MS-P6.3:Construct a scientific explanation based on valid and reliable evidence obtained from sources (including the students’ own experiments) 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.

MS-P7.1:Compare and critique two arguments on the same topic and analyze whether they emphasize similar or different evidence and/or interpretations of facts.

MS-P8.3:Gather, read, and synthesize information from multiple appropriate sources and assess the credibility, accuracy, and possible bias of each publication and methods used, and describe how they are supported or not supported by evidence.

High School

Cross Cutting Concepts: 3

Patterns, Cause and effect, Stability and Change

HS-C1.4:Mathematical representations are needed to identify some patterns

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.

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-P8.3:Gather, read, and evaluate scientific and/or technical information from multiple authoritative sources, assessing the evidence and usefulness of each source.

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