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Atlas of Change

PINEMAP Project, University of Florida, Project Learning Tree

In this activity, students explore the web-based U.S. Forest Service Climate Change Atlas to learn about projected climate changes in their state and how suitable habitat for tree and bird species is projected to change by 2100.

Activity length: Three 45-minute class periods
Students need to use a computer either alone or in pairs.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Activity supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 1 Disciplinary Core Idea, 1 Cross Cutting Concept, 1 Science and Engineering Practice
High School: 1 Performance Expectation, 2 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 3 Cross Cutting Concepts, 4 Science and Engineering Practices

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Observations, experiments, and theory are used to construct and refine computer models
About Teaching Principle 5
Other materials addressing 5c
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

About the Science

  • Activity draws on the US Forest Service Climate Change Atlas in which several different climate models are used to project how tree and bird species may fare under different scenarios as their current habitats change.
  • Comments from expert scientist:
    Scientific strengths:
    Overall extremely impressed with the Southeastern Forests and Climate Change Activities 1-3
    - Great introductory to how models work
    - Use of Atlas and creating informative posters
    - Comparing projected changes to suitable habitat for southeastern forest ecosystems or bird populations that result from using different climate models and scenarios

About the Pedagogy

  • Effectively summarizes the nature of modeling in climate science.
  • Students use the online Climate Change Atlas, from the United States Forest Service, to explore the effects of climate change on the future distributions of suitable habitats for forest types, tree species, and bird species in the eastern United States.
  • A slide presentation called "Atlas Guide" is used by students to understand how to use the USDA Forest Service Climate Change Atlas (both tree and bird sections).
  • Student sheets provide step-by-step guidance for use of the Atlas. The pedagogy of the worksheets is somewhat "cookbook" style, but the jigsaw discussion and poster-making aspects of the activities will help develop higher order thinking skills.
  • Alternative teaching instructions are given to simplify content and the length of the lesson for students of varying abilities.
  • A concise and useful introduction to modeling and how models are used in climate projections is supplied (PPT). Activity also offers a tutorial on climate modeling, presented by a University of Florida faculty member.
  • On the home page, http://sfrc.ufl.edu/extension/ee/climate/section1/activity3/, there are three important teacher tools: A video "Tour of the Activity" that lays out objectives and tell instructors exactly what students will be doing and identifies videos or other media teachers should review, a Check Your Knowledge--Interactive Quiz for educators, and Systems Exercises that can be incorporated.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Free registration is required to access the materials. The login process is a bit circuitous but allows access to a large suite of materials used in this activity.
  • Teacher notes are provided for both slide sets.
  • Excellent background reading for teachers is a big plus.
  • All materials and resources are included in either PDF form or are online.
  • Modifications, enrichment, and systems thinking extensions provided.
  • The Tree Atlas and Bird Atlas can be accessed outside the activity and without creating an account.
    Climate Change Tree Atlas https://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/atlas/tree/
    Climate Change Bird Atlas https://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/atlas/bird/

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

This activity is part of a larger curriculum, Southeastern Forests and Climate Change, which contains 5 sections and a rich collection of learning activities.
There is an alternate URL for this same resource: https://www.plt.org/curriculum/southeastern-forests-climate-change/
An account is required, but it's free.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 1

MS-ESS3.C1:Human activities have significantly altered the biosphere, sometimes damaging or destroying natural habitats and causing the extinction of other species. But changes to Earth’s environments can have different impacts (negative and positive) for different living things.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 1

Systems and System Models

MS-C4.2: Models can be used to represent systems and their interactions—such as inputs, processes and outputs—and energy, matter, and information flows within systems.

Science and Engineering Practices: 1

Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

MS-P8.5:Communicate scientific and/or technical information (e.g. about a proposed object, tool, process, system) in writing and/or through oral presentations.

High School

Performance Expectations: 1

HS-ESS3-5: Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth systems.

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 2

HS-ESS2.D4:Current models predict that, although future regional climate changes will be complex and varied, average global temperatures will continue to rise. The outcomes predicted by global climate models strongly depend on the amounts of human-generated greenhouse gases added to the atmosphere each year and by the ways in which these gases are absorbed by the ocean and biosphere.

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: 3

Systems and System Models, Stability and Change

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-C4.4:Models can be used to predict the behavior of a system, but these predictions have limited precision and reliability due to the assumptions and approximations inherent in models.

HS-C7.2:Change and rates of change can be quantified and modeled over very short or very long periods of time. Some system changes are irreversible.

Science and Engineering Practices: 4

Developing and Using Models, Analyzing and Interpreting Data, Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking, Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

HS-P2.4:Develop and/or use multiple types of models to provide mechanistic accounts and/or predict phenomena, and move flexibly between model types based on merits and limitations.

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-P5.2:Use mathematical, computational, and/or algorithmic representations of phenomena or design solutions to describe and/or support claims and/or explanations.

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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