Lesson Plan

Climate Science in Focus (Field Trip)

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Grade Level:
Fifth Grade-Twelfth Grade
Climate, Climate Change, Earth Science, Science and Technology
58 minutes
Group Size:
Up to 36
National/State Standards:


In “Climate Science in Focus (Field Trip),” students have a chance to collect real streamflow data either in a neighborhood stream or at a NPS site. 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 5 of the unit.


Students will be able to:
1.      Complete a stream assessment lab activity
2.      Record and analyze appropriate data and report findings through an appropriate medium


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.

Option 1: Schedule a field trip with Devils Postpile National Monument or your local NPS site to bring students on a hydrology program. Visit www.nps.gov to find sites in your area.
Option 2: Take students out to a local stream for a teacher led lesson on hydrology (Procedure 5.1). Visit www.nps.gov/DEPO for information on having the equipment mailed to you.
Option 3: Schedule a ranger from Devils Postpile National Monument to come into your classroom to discuss hydrology.
Option 4: Set up a virtual lesson with Devils Postpile National Monument or another NPS site to bring a lesson on hydrology into the classroom. Contact Devils Postpile National Monument for further information. 

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.



Assign post-lab questions and write-up for homework.


channel morphology, floodplain development, benthic cover, riffle zone, biomass, species richness, tolerance