Lesson Plan

Exploring Climate Science (Climate Connections)

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


In “Exploring Climate Science (Climate Connections),” students have a chance to virtually connect with a park to learn about local climate change and its impacts. Our extensive “Exploring Climate Science” curricula unit is broken into eight lessons, each taking 40 minutes to complete. Designed around the 5th grade Next Generation Science Standards, it is a unit easily adapted up for middle or high school use. Teach the entire unit or pull out particular activities. This is lesson 7 of the unit.


Students will be able to:

1. Identify ways in which National Parks are studying climate change



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- Climate Change

Day 2- Weather vs Climate

Day 3- Snowpack

Day 4- Snow Course Field Trip

Day 5- Watersheds

Day 6- Streamflow Data

Day 7- NPS Connections

Day 8- Research Projects 


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

 Pencil and notebook paper for taking notes (teacher provided)



Exit ticket question: Write at least three sentences about how National Parks are studying climate change.


If you aren't able to schedule a virtual field trip, play NPS podcasts on climate change instead.

Watch one of the podcasts or videos from a park to show students how NPS sites are studying climate change:


Devils Postpile Climate Science Podcasts 

Rocky Mountain National Park Pika research


Video – Phenology and citizen science at Great Smokey https://nature.nps.gov/multimedia/CCRP_Phenology1/index.cfm


Dependent on NPS topics discussed

Last updated: February 28, 2015