Sharing our observations of change

About this lesson:


  • Climate change influences our lives.

  • Climate change influences earth systems at multiple scales.


  • What are the patterns across our observations and which are associated with climate change?

NGSS themes addressed:

  • Practices- Developing models, communicating information

  • Cross-cutting concepts- Stability and change, Patterns, Cause and effect

  • Disciplinary core ideas- LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems; ESS2&3: Earth’s systems, Earth and Human Activity

Culturally-Responsive Curriculum Standards Addressed:

  • A. Integrity of cultural knowledge that students brings with them

  • E. Local knowledge and actions in a global context

Purpose: The goal of this learning activity is to learn from one another about the changes that we have been observing in our own special places, and look for patterns that are occurring across communities. Through this activity we will get to know each other better and we begin thinking about how climate change can influence multiple spatial scales, from our own backyard, to all of Alaska, to the entire Arctic and the world.

Assignment Instructions:

1. Divide into small groups of 4-6 people. Try to gather with people who are not from your own community.

2. Each person in the group should share the map that they drew of social and ecological changes that they have observed in a place that is special to them. See preceding lesson!

3. After everyone has shared the stories that they have illustrated on their map, discuss in your group two things:

  • What themes that you see emerging across your group's stories? For example, did many people observe the same kinds of changes happening? What were they? Did people draw maps at different spatial scales (a whole region or town vs. a backyard or bedroom) and did that seem to influence the types of observations they had?

  • Which of the changes do you think are related to climate change and which are not? Why do you think so?

4. Nominate one group member to record the themes and serve as the reporter back to our large group.

5. We will record the themes that emerged from each group on a large sheet of paper. This record will be used in a later activity to compare our observations (using the t-chart below) to changes that are being observed throughout Alaska and the Arctic by scientists and community members.

T-chart for trends in climate change observations at different scales
Lesson written by Dr. Katie Spellman, University of Alaska Fairbanks International Arctic research Center. Funding for development of the Arctic and Earth SIGNs project materials is provided by NASA under Award No. NNX16AC52A. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. It is one of the projects within the NASA Science Mission Directorate's Science Activation to further enable NASA science experts and content into the learning environment more effectively and efficiently with learners of all ages.