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In this set of activities, students learn about impacts of drought through news videos of communities facing serious water shortages, analyze drought data and models, and research and evaluate potential solutions. This lesson works well as a component within a larger unit on climate change, its impacts, and ways to address the resulting issues.

This learning activity takes four 45-minute class periods.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»


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

  • Even though the lesson is designated for grades 9-12, it could be used in grades 6-8.
  • An explicit teacher guide/script is provided in the procedures.
  • Teacher may want to preview the videos and printout accompanying handouts for each case study.
  • Before watching the Case Study videos, it should be emphasized that technical lessons of drought will be taught through worksheets and lecture, not the videos. Rather, the take away from the videos are an account of how humans can be affected by drought.

About the Science

  • In these activities, students learn about the different drought characterizations and causes of drought based on both climate patterns and human interaction with the environment.
  • The lesson discusses solutions to drought that are being explored and how these solutions are connected to different drought characterizations.
  • These lessons do a great job of incorporating state-of-the-art science into the lesson plan. There is a great use of data from NOAA to visualize drought across the United States.
  • The presentation does a nice job of showing how different types of drought, e.g. meteorological and agricultural, are interconnected. The study cited data when appropriate except in slides 3 & 6 of the presentation.
  • Drought is covered in a great deal of depth in this resource and allows students to develop an intimate understanding with the subject.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Good use of case studies from a variety of regions. Numerous small and larger scale solutions are presented, some of which are short term and some are currently short-term but may become longer term. Resources are finite and population growth is exponential, so long-term solutions will be necessary. Drought is cyclic and it would be useful to emphasize that longer-term solutions - changes in behavior will be necessary because long term uncontrolled population growth will lead to future drought impacts even in the absence of reduced precipitation.

About the Pedagogy

  • Students learn about the impacts of water shortages due to drought, make connections to climate patterns, and explore solutions that increase communities' capacities to respond to drought. The lesson procedure provides the ability for students to learn about both what drought is and how to mitigate the negative effects of drought.
  • The case studies allow for students to see the effect drought has on communities.
  • Since the three regions that are covered by the videos may not be in the students' own community, the extension activity provides a venue to explore the above mentioned topics in their community.The videos provide great visual references if students have not actually experienced a severe drought in their community.
  • Uses the 5E model to teach on water availability, impacts of drought, patterns of drought, and the identification and evaluation of solutions. Case-studies, individual or small group work, open, whole group discussions are encouraged. Due to the use of the 5E model, the sequencing is well organized.
  • The main lesson, as well as the extensions, allow for independent research. The handouts provide a vehicle for students to express their scientific impressions of the videos.
  • Through videos, lectures, and worksheets the lesson plan appeals to multiple types of learning.
  • The procedure includes example answers for assessment of student answers, but does not provide a clear avenue for how assessment can be conducted in this lesson.
  • A diverse population is represented in the videos.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Resource is available online but does have optional download capabilities.
  • Integrated share to Google Classrooms button.
  • Also can be assigned through Remind, social media platforms, or with the PBS LearningMedia Lesson Builder Tool.
  • All videos have the capability of closed captioning and/or printable transcripts.
  • The materials are of high technical quality.

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

The resource is part of the Climate Change Impacts and Solutions: Drought collection

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