Lesson 8: Changing Climate

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Enduring Understanding: What's the point?

In this lesson students will explore the effect climate has on a wide variety of factors within the Arctic.  Students will also have the opportunity to further explore the effects of climate change in today’s Arctic and the potential consequences. Emphasis will be placed on student exploration of current issues and the development of critical thought.

Essential/Guiding Question:

Why do we need to explore the interactions between climate change and human life on Earth?

Curriculum Links:

Science, Environmental Science, Geographic Foundations

Lesson Framework:

Time required:

At least 1 period.  Length will be determined by enrichments and choice of debrief.


  • Computer lab or tablets/notebooks/laptop cart with internet access.
  • Method of recording observations and reflections

Lesson Content


It may be helpful to have completed some of the earlier lessons on the Expedition Arctic website.  If you have already done so, some of the Activity section will go faster than if students are seeing the material for the first time.


Watch one of the many clips available on line from the Extreme Ice Survey (time lapse photography documenting receding glaciers). Or, alternatively watch the trailer and end credits for the documentary about the EIS “Chasing Ice” (www.chasingice.com).

Discuss the impacts of such imagery on our perceptions of climate change.


Students will go to the Expedition Arctic website and experientially explore the various interactions of climate change and the Arctic.

While exploring the site have students write down observations and reflections.  Have students think about the following questions:

What is climate change?

In what ways is climate change discussed on the Expedition Arctic website?

How does changing climate affect Arctic life- human and nature?

How does changing climate affect Arctic history?

How does changing climate affect Arctic geology?

How does changing climate affect the Arctic’s future?

After students have had a chance to explore the website and reflect on their learning, have them research the web to find a current news article (or TV/radio news story) which relates to one of the climate change issues explored on the Expedition Arctic site.

Formative Assessment/Debrief:

Think-Pair-Share can be random, or based on topic choice for news exploration.

Presentations to class about the issue they chose to explore and their examination of the news piece (can be formal or informal).

Each student can use their worksheets to create a visual poster or display.  Post these displays around the classroom and have an open gallery where students walk around, read each other’s displays, and discuss.


Adaptations and Enrichments

As an introduction, have an open discussion with students about the concept of climate change.  Students will quite often have disagreements about the importance and validity based on personal beliefs and/or outside influences.

To stimulate discussion on the topic of climate change, examine as a class the online comment thread for a video or news article about climate change. ** Please note that you will need to look at the comment thread beforehand to determine appropriateness of online comments for the classroom.


This lesson can be extended into minor or major projects where students examine the effects of climate change and what can be done to both adapt to and mitigate these effects.

This could be used as a lead in for exploration of green energy sources, evaluation of environmental protection laws, or even a personal evaluation of the student, class or school’s own carbon footprint.