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Get Climate Data for Your Area and Make Temperature and Precipitation Charts

Salish Kootenai College

This lab, created by Salish Kootenai College faculty, steps undergraduate students through ordering, accessing, and graphing local precipitation and temperature data.

This activity takes approximately 2 hours

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

  • The resource is contextualized within the worldview of an Indigenous people. Place-based science is compelling for all students, and especially so for individuals with connections to their land. Begin on the main page on "Tribes and Climate Change" section to ground the skills and stories; https://www.skclivinglandscapes.org/alaska_arctic/
  • The nature of the data varies based on the specific location and period selected. This provides opportunity for exploring, but initially might cause confusion or be overwhelming for the students (too much data). For the first analysis, suggest that the key data elements be included in the student's initial data request from NOAA.
  • The resource provides an opportunity to explore science from a place-based context and could be supplemented with events, experiences, observations, or reflections by the student.
  • A Teacher's Page is provided on the underlying Climate Principles, but not specifically for the lab activity.
  • Background or supplemental references on the graphing and statistical techniques are not provided.

About the Science

  • This is a hands-on practical lab activity wherein students learn how to access and download digitally available real climate data (e.g. precipitation and temperature) from NOAA for a location of their choosing.
  • Students learn how to generate anomaly charts and trend lines, and how to view trends relative to the absolute data. A clear description of what anomaly vs. absolute data plots show is presented.
  • The activity demonstrates how real climate data is readily available to them and how they can access and analyze this data to understand climate trends.
  • The activity and information are affiliated with a college and NASA. The datasets and associated references regarding the data are available from NOAA.
  • Additional or "further reading" references on the analysis techniques are not provided in the lab materials.
  • Comments from expert scientist:
    Scientific strengths: Clear guidance to students of how to access data from NOAA site, and use the tools. They can learn how to download to an excel spreadsheet and make graphs of values, trends, anomalies, etc., and how to interpret them.
    Suggestions: None.

About the Pedagogy

  • This lab is place-based and engages students in examining diachronic data for temperature and precipitation for their home community.
  • Place-based instruction is a successful engagement strategy for all students and is especially useful in the instruction of Indigenous students, for whom this lab was designed.
  • The activity is presented through an Indigenous worldview.
  • The activity is a digital lab exercise working with data and tools available online.
  • The lab is organized in clear easy-to-follow steps, with each step in the lab adding a new technique or building on a previous step. Steps include retrieving climate data (precipitation and temperature), downloading the data, importing the data into a spreadsheet, and creating absolute and anomaly charts and trend lines.
  • Basic familiarity with data files and using spreadsheets to create graphs would be optimal but could also be gained through this lab with coaching.
  • The learning outcome is the ability to access real climate data, generate views of long-term (historical) climate trends, and make predictions about the future.
  • The overall resource is presented within the context of an Indigenous group; the lab activity can be used both in or out of that context.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The lab activity is focused but has high usability (e.g. different climate indicators or different data repositories).
  • There are no direct costs unless MS Excel is used as the spreadsheet application of choice rather than Google Sheets.
  • Technical preparation for the lab by the teacher is not required.

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

Entered the Collection: January 2022 Last Reviewed: July 2021

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