Lesson Plan

Climate Science in Focus (Watershed)


In “Climate Science in Focus (Watersheds),” students will explore the local watershed to learn how it is connected to local, regional, and state resources. Broken into eight days, these lessons require 58 minutes to complete. Designed around 9th grade Next Generation Science Standards, it is a unit easily adapted down for middle school or up for advanced high school classes. Teach the entire unit or pull out particular activities. This is lesson 3 of the unit.


Students will be able to:
1.       Predict how local and regional areas could be affected by climate change
2.       Propose ways to minimize potential negative effects of climate change on water availability


The Earth consists of four systems: the atmosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere, and biosphere, which are interconnected. Changes to one part of the system can have consequences on the others. Changes to global or regional climate can be caused by changes in the sun's energy output or Earth's orbit, tectonic events, ocean circulation, volcanic activity, glaciers, vegetation, and human activity.

Water is essential for life on Earth. Relative water availability is a major factor in designating habitats for different living organisms. In the United States, things like agriculture and water rights are hot topics. Current models predict that average global temperatures are going to continue to rise even if regional climate changes remain complex and varied. These changes will have an impact on all of Earth's systems. 

Studies have shown that climate change is driven not only by natural effects but also by human activities. Knowledge of the factors that affect climate, coupled with responsible management of natural resources, are required for sustaining these Earth systems. Long-term change can be anticipated using science-based predictive models, making science and engineering essential to understanding global climate change and its possible impacts.

National Parks can serve as benchmarks for climate science trends and effects over time because they are protected areas void of human influence. Understanding current climate trends will help set students up to be successful in interpreting and engaging in discussions about climate change, which will lead to informed decision making.

Day 1- Earth as a System

Day 2- Weather vs Climate

Day 3- Watershed

Day 4- Climate Science Data and Tools

Day 5- Field Trip

Day 6- NPS Connections

Day 7- Project Preparation

Day 8- Evaluations


Most of the materials for this unit are provided in the Stream Flow River Study Trunk or as downloadable files.

Video – Power of Water Erosion

Colored pencils, crayons, or thin-tip markers for tracing watershed. (Teacher provided) 

Watershed interactive map


Step 1
Distribute the DoNow: How does water affect life and activities on the earth?

Step 2
1. Display Power of Water Erosion video and lead a discussion. How can water affect the other Earth systems? How can changes to the hydrosphere affect the biosphere? Have students think about if there were to be more or less water in an area, how would that effect the ecosystem?

Step 3
1. Lecture/present Water Power! Students should record notes and participate in class discussion.

Step 4
1. Monitor student progress as they trace watershed from Thousand Island Lakes and Lake Mary Worksheet 3.1
2. Trace several local watersheds on interactive online map to show students where water ends up.


Distribute exit ticket – Predict the effects of climate change on water at the local, regional, and state level. Purpose ways that could help reverse its effects.


Glaciers are also being impacted by climate change. Extend this lesson by watching the video and discussing visible changes.


habitat, degradation, watershed, riparian, arable land, stream flow, peak flow