Introduction to Climate

Climate Change Lesson 1: Introduction to Climate Change

Climate change is a topic we hear discussed everywhere. We read about it, watch TV programs about it, and people argue whether it's real or not. The global temperature has gone up by one degree. That may not seem like very much, but over time that one degree has created drastic changes in weather. We have hotter, dryer summers, more violent storms and some parts of the world are facing the reality that their homes may be underwater from rising sea levels in the not too distant future. Not all scientists agree however that the evidence of warmer temperatures proves global warming is caused by human activity. Some believe this is a natural cycle of warming that the planet goes through, and that natural cooling cycles will regulate the warmer temperatures over time. 

The purpose of this short lesson is to provide your class an opportunity to explore climate change, global warming, and discuss whether it is something being created by human activity, or if it's a natural phenomenon of our planet.

Activity Level:  High

Activity Time: 50 Minutes


Students will explore if climate change is a human created problem or a natural one with a classroom discussion and definition of basic vocabulary.

Students will consider their understanding of the controversy of climate change by listening to a series of statements, and choosing whether they agree or don't agree.


The Water Cycle

Climate Change Lesson 2: The Water Cycle

Water is the most abundant natural resource on our planet. Every living thing relies on water for their survival. Not every life form can move to a source of water when they need it. Some rely on water coming to them. This process of water moving over the Earth is called the Water Cycle.

Some parts of the Earth have an abundance of water, some parts have very little, and there are even places that have no water at all. Because water is so important, making sure there is enough water for everyone is a very important concern people have today.

In this lesson you will learn about the water cycle, the different stages, and the importance of water moving from one part of the Earth to the other so we can all live.

Activity Level: High

Activity Time: 50 to 90 minutes


Students will show their understanding of the water cycle by creating and acting out skits that demonstrate the different stages after a class discussion and video.

The Green House Effect

Climate Change Lesson 3: The Greenhouse Effect

A term we hear often during any discussion about global warming is the greenhouse effect. If you've ever walked into a greenhouse on a sunny summer's day you instantly notice how much warmer the air is inside the greenhouse than outside. This is caused by sunlight entering through the glass of the greenhouse but not all of the energy is able to escape, heating the air inside the greenhouse. The Earth's atmosphere does the same thing as a greenhouse. Capturing the energy of the sun and holding that energy so the Earth stays warm and life can exist.

If the greenhouse effect is what keeps the Earth warm, then why do scientists say it's a problem? Along with energy, the atmosphere also works to hold in gases that exist in our atmosphere. One of these gases is carbon dioxide. Scientists are concerned that we produce more carbon dioxide than what the atmosphere can absorb. This leads to our temperatures rising and global warming.

In this lesson you will simulate the greenhouse effect with a classroom demonstration. If time allows and you have the resources, this can be modified into a small group activity.

Activity Level: Medium

Activity Time: 50 minutes, plus time needed for the demonstration.


Students will explore how the greenhouse effect happens by observing a classroom demonstration that simulates it.

Carbon Footprint

Climate Change Lesson 4: Carbon Footprint

Many students may not be aware that even though they are not old enough to drive a car, daily activities still create a carbon footprint. The food we buy at the supermarket, the books and newspapers we read, everything adds to our impact on the Earth.

Why is this so important? The more carbon dioxide produced from everything humans do, the more carbon dioxide the planet's atmosphere has to absorb. When there is more carbon dioxide produced than the atmosphere can handle, the buildup of these greenhouse gases contributes to global warming. Scientists believe daily human activity produces too much carbon dioxide, and it's causing the planet to get warmer.

In this lesson students will learn some facts about their personal carbon footprint and have the opportunity to create a poster meant to educate others about the facts on our carbon footprint.

Activity Level: Medium

Activity Time: 50 minutes


Students will study the impact of daily activity and how it contributes to their carbon footprint by watching a video, discussing some facts about how people create a carbon footprint, and creating posters demonstrating those facts.

News Broadcast

Climate Change Lesson 5: News Broadcast

In the first four lessons students explored climate change, the water cycle, the greenhouse effect and ways to reduce their carbon footprint. In this final lesson students will select one of the four topics and develop an "evening news" to share with the class or with the school if the students are interested. Students will form groups and develop a short presentation in the style of a news segment for their topic.

Climate change receives a decent amount of coverage in the news. An internet search will yield good results for students to observe and base their own news segment. It may be beneficial to assign watching at least one evening news broadcast as homework so students can get the feel of what a typical 30 minute news segment should include.

The purpose of this final lesson is so students can creatively take the information they have learned and put it in a familiar format to share with the class, thus providing an assessment on how well they learned the material presented.

Activity Level: High

Activity Time: 2 to 3 days to allow students to develop content for their news stories and rehearse their presentations.


Students will demonstrate their knowledge of climate change, the greenhouse effect, the water cycle and global warming by developing a "news broadcast" of stories about climate change.


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