Lesson Plan

Views of Climate Change in Alaska, the Arctic, and Beyond

Fuzzy red and orange willow blossoms stick out from a green willow plant
Climate change affects every aspect of the Arctic, from the sea ice, to the wildlife, to even the plants.

NPS Photo / Kathi Quinn

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Grade Level:
Sixth Grade-Twelfth Grade
Climate, Climate Change, Conservation, Earth Science, Environment, Geography, Landscapes, Oceans
60-90 minutes (1-2 class periods)
Group Size:
Up to 24
National/State Standards:
Science: C1; C3; [11]SC3.2; D1; SD3; [10] SD3.1; [11] SD3.1 Geography: A1; E5; F3; F4.  Speaking and Listening: 1; [6]1d[6]2; [7]2; [8]2;


Climate change is occurring globally, however some of the effects are more noticeable in certain regions of the world, like Alaska and the Arctic.  Everyone can have an impact in slowing the effects of climate change. 


At the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

  1. List and describe 4 effects of climate change.
  2. Explain 3 ways that climate change is affecting Alaska and the Arctic. 
  3. Compare 2 effects of climate change in Alaska and the Arctic with 2 effects of climate change occurring in their own state/backyard/or other region of the world.


Climate change is happening. It is not restricted to one location, it is happening right in our backyards, it is happening regionally, and it is happening globally. There are regions however (like Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, Alaska, and the Arctic) that are experiencing the effects of climate change at a faster rate and at times in a more obvious manner. We will begin by taking a look at some of those effects through a game of Memory and discussion. Following that, with the help of the Fragile Earth app for iPads, we will take a closer, and very real, look at things that are happening in our backyard and across the globe.




Class Discussion:

Climate change cannot be reversed. We have seen some of the causes and effects and have taken a closer look at who and what will be affected by climate change. How can we best plan for and mitigate the effects of climate change? What can we do at a local level? How can we reduce the pressure for continual need and use of some of the resources that are major contributors to climate change (nonrenewable resources, cattle, deforestation, and others). Can turning off the lights when I leave a room really have an impact on reducing the effects of climate change? What can I do?!

Brainstorm a list of simple (and perhaps not so simple) actions that can be done.

How can we best get involved? Talk to people! Education! Stewardship starts at home!


Stewardship starts at home and our individual actions really do matter! We want to ensure the best future for ourselves and our planet. We can’t stop climate change but we can definitely play a part in slowing the effects and thus helping conserve and preserve places like our own homes, Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, Alaska, the Arctic….and beyond. Every single action and impact counts!


  • Develop a memory game of climate change effects that have been observed in your state or region.
  • Dig in to the app! Assign a view for each student to look at, further research and present to the class. Encourage them to talk to the local scientific community to see what has been observed in your area and what is being done to slow the effects of climate change at a local level.
  • Conduct a discussion regarding the title of the app, Fragile Earth. Do you think the Earth is fragile? Is it resilient? Perhaps a bit of both…? Explain why you think so and why it might be a good or bad idea to label the Earth as fragile. How could this help or hinder climate change policy discussions?
  • Bering Land Bridge National Preserve is 2.7 million acres that includes tundra, coastline, lava flows, the largest maar lakes in the world along with other incredible geologic features, and a fascinating human history. This is an area that one day may transition from tundra to trees and be a completely different landscape and resource. How can resource managers best plan for this and other effects of climate change to best conserve and preserve the phenomenal resources of this area now and in the future?
  • Create a citizen science project! Encourage the students to make their own observations. Organizations like the National Phenology Network and the National Audubon Society have been collecting data for years which helps determine and pinpoint how seasons have been shifting and migration patterns have been changing. And this is something YOU can do in your backyard! What a great way to get involved and have a positive impact!