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Evidence of Climate Change in Colorado

LESSON OVERVIEW: The driving question for "Evidence of Climate Change" is "How do we know that Colorado's climate is changing and how will it affect us?" Students warm up to the topic by discussing media coverage of climate change in Colorado, their own opinions about the topic and evidence supporting their hypothesis.

Featuring video and PowerPoint presentations, data analysis and group presentations, the lesson concludes with each student writing a newspaper article summarizing the class findings. This lesson is designed for middle school science students, but is adaptable to older students.

Driving Question

How do we know that Colorado’s climate is changing and how does it affect us?

Grade Level

6th Grade Science (adaptations for 3rd to 8th grade are easily made)

Lesson Time Requirement

4 hours

Climate Literacy Principles Addressed

  • Standard 4: Earth's weather and climate systems are the result of complex interactions
  • Standard 6: Evidence indicates human activities are impacting the climate system

Colorado State Standards Addressed

  • High School:  PS5, PS6, LS2, ES4, ES6
  • 8th Grade:  PS2, PS3, LS1, ES1, eS2
  • 7th Grade:  LS1, LS2, ES2
  • 6th Grade:  LS1, LS2, ES2

Learning Objectives

  • Students will be able to describe how scientists use a variety of data to make conclusions
  • Students will be able to explain why the steps of the scientific method are used in real world situations
  • Students will be able to provide evidence for or against the argument that climate change is occurring in Colorado and the world.
  • Students will be able to describe some impacts that would occur in Colorado if climate change is occurring.
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About the Authors

These Making the Global Local teachers teamed up to share their expertise and collaborate in developing and piloting a reform-oriented lesson about evidence of climate change in Colorado for middle school science students.

  • Laura Bicknell, General Science, Patterson International Elementary School
  • Kellie Courtney, Earth Science and Biology, Lyons Middle and High School
  • Jessica Campbell, Earth Science, Altona Middle School
  • Jon Gerber, Earth Science, Shadow Ridge Middle School

These problem-based lessons were developed through an innovative process that brought together teachers, scientists and science education faculty for "Making the Global Local (MGL)," a teacher professional development workshop hosted by CU-Boulder in July 2009.

Developing and teaching of the lessons is centered around a single driving question that students explore, discuss and answer. While addressing a variety of Colorado content standards, the lessons also seek to localize climate change for Colorado middle and high school students. MGL teachers then took their newly developed lessons to test and refine them in their own classrooms during the Fall 2009 semester.

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Lesson Resources

Possible Extensions

  • Why Should We Care?
  • How will climate change affect Colorado's native species? Will invasive species increase?
  • Will climate change affect our water usage?
  • Will we have enough water?
  • How will economic industries like agriculture be affected by climate change?
  • Will we lose jobs?
  • What kinds of new jobs may be formed in response to the need for reducing our carbon footprint?

Valuable Resources

Links to Curriculum


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