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Global Climate Change


Claremont, CA
Developed by Shane Griffee, Grace Bailey and
Erin Ristig

Target audience: 5th grade students
~ Purpose: Provide students a basic understanding of climate change; encourage
students to consider the environment they live in; empower students to make
environmentally-conscious choices.
~Supplemental resources: PowerPoint presentation, experiment materials (see lesson
~ Education standards: Next Generation Science Standards

5-PS1-3. Make observations and measurements to identify materials based on

their properties

5-ESS2-1. Develop a model using an example to describe ways the geosphere,

biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact

Lesson Plan


Introduction (10 minutes)

A. Introduce topic
B. Breakout session: Have students brainstorm responses to three question.s
1. Has anyone heard the terms Climate Change and Global Warming?
2. What have you heard about these topics?
3. Where have you heard this information?
C. Report back to the group: Students will volunteer to respond to these
Effects of Climate Change, seen today (15 minutes)
A. Basic graph comparison
1. Draw two graphs on the whiteboard
a) A graph of a straight line moving diagonally to the upper
righthand corner
b) A graph with an upward trend, but with peaks and valleys,
not perfectly linear
2. Questions about graphs
a) Are these two lines going in the same direction
(1) Response: yes
b) What makes these graphs different?
(1) Response: One is perfectly straight (or linear), while
the other graphs climbs and falls but is still moving in
an upward direction overall
3. Explain that this distinction is
a) Supplemental video:
4. Have students draw final conclusions about the graph with the
peaks and valleys, applying newly acquired knowledge of
a) Response: The peaks and valleys, or small ups and downs,
variation,while the general t
of the graph is
B. Real-world data analysis
1. Have students consider their own environment

Science Standard 5- ESS1-2: analyzing patterns

a) Does it rain the exact same amount in your city each year?
(1) Response: No, the amount of rain varies.
b) Explain that graphs analyzing real-world subjects will never
be perfectly linear because data will always have some
2. Connect
to w
a) Define
(1) Weather i
s all around us. It describes whatever is
happening outdoors in a given place at a given time.
It can change a lot within a very short time period.
We use the term to describe changes in rainfall,
temperature and wind in a give location.
(2) Climate
describes the total of all weather occurring
over a period of years in a given place. It is the
average weather condition of that place and tells us
what it is usually like in that place.
b) Making connections
(1) Weather
causes the ups and downs, or v
, of a
graph. For weather, think narrow and specific,
day-to-day, week-to-week, or month-to-month.
(2) Climate
reveals the general t
of the weather of a
specific place because it is looking at the pattern of
weather over an extended period of time. For climate,
think big picture and broad, over spans of several
years, decades, or centuries.
3. Applying techniques to draw conclusions
a) Examine two graphs side-by-side
(1) Rising temperature
(2) Rising CO
b) Have students discuss the graphs and question
(1) Using ideas of trend and variation, what do you notice
about these graphs?
(a) Response: Both show some variation through
peaks and valleys, but generally follow an
upward trend.

eSchoolToday, Important Climate Change Terms,
Science Standard 5-ESS1-2: data in graphical displays to reveal patterns that indicate relationships
Science Standard 5- ESS1-1: support an argument with evidence, data or a model


(2) What does this tell us about temperature and CO

(a) Response: The increase in carbon dioxide and
temperature is no coincidence. The two are
directly related. The increase in temperature is
a direct result of the increase in carbon
c) Final conclusions
(1) We use the terms Global Warming or Global Climate
Change to describe the rising of the average
temperature on Earth, as demonstrated by the
temperature graph.
The Earth as a greenhouse (20 minutes)
A. Explain the greenhouse effect
1. What is a greenhouse?
a) A greenhouse is a house made of glass with glass walls and a
glass roof. People grow vegetable, flowers and other plants in
them. A greenhouse stays warm inside, even during winter.
Sunlight shines in and warms the plants and air inside. But
the heat is trapped by the glass and can't escape. So during
the daylight hours, it gets warmer and warmer inside a
greenhouse, and stays pretty warm at night too.6
2. Compare the Earth to a greenhouse
a) A greenhouse is like a mini version of what is happening on
Earth. Similar to the glass of a greenhouse, the Earth has
very important gases that help keep us warm.
3. Explain the greenhouse effect through illustrations on whiteboard
a) Example diagram


Ducksters, Global Warming,
NASA Climate Kids, What is a Greenhouse?,

IB BioNinja, The Greenhouse Effect,


b) Draw sun and rays coming down to Earth's surface

(1) Explanation: Sunlight enters the atmosphere and
reaches Earths surface. Heat energy is absorbed by
the land and water.
c) Draw atmosphere
(1) Explanation: The atmosphere is a layer of invisible
gases that surround the planet.
d) Draw greenhouse gases
(1) Explanation: There are different types of greenhouse
gases, such as CO
. These gases occur naturally, but
can also be created through human actions. For
example, driving cars emits additional CO
e) Draw infrared rays, some passing through the atmosphere
and some bouncing off of the atmosphere and back to Earth.
(1) Explanation: Some of the energy passes back into
space, but much of it remains trapped in the
atmosphere by the greenhouse gases.
f) Further explanation: Greenhouse gases are collecting in the
atmosphere like a thickening blanket, which means less
energy is passing back into space, more is remaining trapped
within our atmosphere.
(1) Question for students to discuss: How does this
thickening blanket affect the temperature of Earth?
(a) Response: As greenhouse gases build up in the
Earths atmosphere, it is more difficult for
energy to pass through the atmosphere. The
trapped energy makes the Earth warmer.
4. Just like the greenhouse example, this trapping of the suns heat is
causing the planet to warm up and is what we call global climate
Experiment: Modeling the greenhouse effect (15 minutes)
A. Overview: In

this experiment, students will model the effect of greenhouse

gases on global climate using mason jars as a model for the earths
B. Supplies needed
1. 6 small thermometers
2. 6 mason jars

eSchoolToday, How does the Greenhouse Effect happen?,

3. Graph Paper
4. Access to sun or a heat lamp
5. Clock or stopwatch
C. Directions: To begin, split the class into three equal sized groups. Each
group should have two jars and two thermometers. Place the
thermometers in the jars. Both jars should receive equal sunlight. Once the
experiment is in place, close the lid on one of the jars (Experimental) and
keep the lid on the other jar open (Control) and begin the stopwatch. Then
have the students record and measure the temperatures within the jars
every two minutes for a total of 10 minutes and record their observations
on the large graphs provided. At the conclusion of the experiment, have
students compare their findings with those of the other groups. While the
experiment is being conducted, continue the discussion about what is
D. Explanation:

What's Going On? The air over the exposed thermometer is

constantly changing, constantly mixing with cooler air. While inside the jar
the air is trapped and can't circulate, it simply gets warmer and warmer as
the sunlight heats it up. This is similar to the way a greenhouse works,
where solar energy (light) comes in and becomes thermal energy (heat)
that can't escape back out through the glass house.

E. Conclusion:

Greenhouse gases serve a natural and important function:

they keep the surface of the Earth warmerwithout them we'd experience
temperatures more like zero degrees Fahrenheit, or -18 degrees Celsius!
Industrialization has led to what we call pollution, which creates more
greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide. It's the excessive amount of
these gases present in the atmosphere that scientists argue increases the
temperature of the Earth and affects the balance of natural cycles.

"Observe the Greenhouse Effect in a Jar."
. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2015.
"Observe the Greenhouse Effect in a Jar."
. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2015.