Atmosphere Learning Progression 9-12

Created by Tina R Harte Last updated 5/3/2017

Lessons and Activities that align with the GLOBE Atmosphere Protocols, NGSS, and GLOBE Learning activities for the K-2 Mission Earth Atmosphere Learning Progression.

  • A Simple Model for Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide

    In this problem set, learners will create and use a differential equation of rate-of-change of atmospheric carbon dioxide. They will refer to the "Keeling Curve" graph and information on the sources and sinks of carbon on Earth to create the equation and apply it to answer a series of questions. Answer key is provided. This is part of Earth Math: A Brief Mathematical Guide to Earth Science and Climate Change.
    AAAS Benchmarks: 2B/H3, 2C/H2, 12B/H2, 2B/H1
  • Identifying the Key Changing Conditions of the Earth System (Grades 10-12)

    n this unit, students investigate temperature cycles, tree rings, CO2 records, and the effects of CO2 on temperature, precipitation and cloud cover to determine the impacts of changing climate on forests. After gathering and analyzing local data, students examine regional impacts and differences. The unit is one of four under the Chicago Botanic Garden curriculum entitled, "Climate Change in My Backyard."
    AAAS Benchmarks: 4B/M14, 4B/H6, 8C/M11, 11C/H9
  • The Earth as a System (Grades 10-12)

    Students are introduced to the carbon cycle through discussion, modeling and a game. Students then complete activities and investigations on Greenhouse gasses, photosynthesis, cellular respiration and ecosystem services (functions and values of intact ecosystems to humans). The unit is one of four under the Chicago Botanic Garden curriculum entitled, "Climate Change in My Backyard."
    AAAS Benchmarks: 4B/H9, 4C/H1, 8C/M11
  • Carbon Dioxide- Where Does it All Go?

    In this problem set, learners will use a diagram of carbon fluxes, which shows the sources that contribute to current atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, to answer a series of questions. Answer key is provided. This problem is part of Earth Math: A Brief Mathematical Guide to Earth Science and Climate Change.
    AAAS Benchmarks: 2B/H3, 2C/M1, 4B/H4, 2B/H1
  • Hurricane Katrina

    This problem-based learning module asks students to consider how future climate change could impact the frequency and intensity of hurricanes. They are tasked with studying the trends and impacts of hurricanes on coastal regions. They proceed by conducting an Earth system analysis, examining connections and causal chains of impact that are set in motion by the hurricane throughout the Earth's atmosphere, biosphere, lithosphere, and hydrosphere. Teacher notes, rubric, and background resources are included. The student pages are available as a separate page that can be printed or displayed on a computer.
    AAAS Benchmarks: 4B/E5, 3C/H4
  • Modeling the Keeling Curve

    In this problem set, learners will refer to the tabulated data used to create the Keeling Curve of atmospheric carbon dioxide to create a mathematical function that accounts for both periodic and long-term changes. They will use this function to answer a series of questions, including predictions of atmospheric concentration in the future. A link to the data, which is in an Excel file, as well as the answer key are provided. This is part of Earth Math: A Brief Mathematical Guide to Earth Science and Climate Change.
    AAAS Benchmarks: 2B/H3, 2C/H2, 12B/H2, 2B/H1
  • Earth's Atmosphere

    This problem set is about the methods scientists use to compare the abundance of the different elements in Earth's atmosphere. Answer key is provided. This is part of Earth Math: A Brief Mathematical Guide to Earth Science and Climate Change.
    AAAS Benchmarks: 4B/M15, 2C/M1
  • Atmosphere Chapter-Cloud Watch

    tudents observe cloud type and coverage and weather conditions over a five-day period and correlate these observations. Students make and test predictions using these observations. This is a learning activity associated with the Atmosphere chapter of the GLOBE Teacher Guide, and is supported by field protocols for study of the atmosphere.
    AAAS Benchmarks: 4B/E5
  • Constructing a Model of Surface Ozone

    Students will work in teams to create visual models to assist in understanding the volume of surface ozone in the air. Students construct cubes of different volumes and compare them to get a feel for parts per million by volume and parts per billion by volume. Resource includes a paper template for creating the cube and a student worksheet. This is a learning activity associated with the GLOBE Atmosphere investigations and is supported by the Atmosphere chapter of the GLOBE Teacher’s Guide.
    AAAS Benchmarks: 11B/M1
  • Observing Visibility and Sky Color

    Students become aware of the changes in visibility and sky color due to particles suspended in the air, called aerosols. They observe, document and classify changes in visibility and sky color over several days and understand the relationship between sky color, visibility and aerosols in the atmosphere. A student data sheet is included in the activity. This learning resource is part of the Atmosphere chapter of the GLOBE Teacher's Guide, and is supported by the GLOBE Aerosol protocol. GLOBE (Global Learning and Observation to Benefit the Environment) is a worldwide, hands-on, K-12 school-based science education program.
  • Studying the Instrument Shelter

    In this project, students construct shelters that have varying properties and place them in the same location, or place similar shelters in different locations and compare temperature data taken in each shelter. Students predict what will happen for each of the different shelter designs or placements and perform the steps of student research. The resource includes a student worksheet. This learning resource is part of the Atmosphere chapter of the GLOBE Teacher’s Guide, and is supported by the GLOBE atmosphere protocols.
    AAAS Benchmarks: 1B/M2ab, 3A/E3, 12C/M3, 1B/H3
  • What Are the Human-Caused Sources of Carbon Dioxide?

    This activity presents a digital interactive where students identify anthropogenic sources of carbon dioxide and their relative contribution to carbon enrichment of the atmosphere. Students then obtain a photograph pair of a scene in their community, and identify sources of atmospheric carbon dioxide that did not exist in the earlier photograph. Alternatively, they can interview community members to obtain the same information. This activity is supported by a textbook chapter, How is the Atmosphere Changing?, part of the unit, Climate Change, in Global Systems Science (GSS), an interdisciplinary course for high school students that emphasizes how scientists from a wide variety of fields work together to understand significant problems of global impact.
    AAAS Benchmarks: 8C/M11, 8C/H4
  • GLOBE: Cloud Type Practice

    his interactive, web-based tool asks a series of questions to help the learner narrow down the type of cloud they are observing. It can be used both for practice and in the field to identify clouds. This resource is part of The GLOBE Program Atmosphere Protocol eTraining for Clouds.
  • Weather and Climate

    This background chapter reviews the basic principles of meteorology that educators need to guide inquiry activities in the classroom. Topics include structure of the atmosphere, Coriolis effect, water cycle, greenhouse effect, cyclones, anticyclones, and jet streams. This is chapter 2 of Meteorology: An Educator's Resource for Inquiry-Based Learning for Grades 5-9. The guide includes a discussion of learning science, the use of inquiry in the classroom, instructions for making simple weather instruments, and more than 20 weather investigations ranging from teacher-centered to guided and open inquiry investigations.
    AAAS Benchmarks: 4B/E5
  • What is Light?

    This textbook chapter traces the historical development of the modern scientific understanding of light, and reviews the electromagnetic spectrum and the Earth's atmospheric shield. The resource includes links to current news articles, and a suite of pre- and post-unit assessments. A teacher's guide supports classroom use. This is the fifth chapter in the unit, Energy Flow, exploring the flow of energy through the atmosphere, oceans, land, and living things over short and long timescales. The resource is part of Global System Science (GSS), an interdisciplinary course for high school students that emphasizes how scientists from a wide variety of fields work together to understand significant problems of global impact.
    AAAS Benchmarks: 4F/H3c, 4F/M8, 4E/M6
  • Energy Flow in the Atmosphere

    This textbook chapter introduces the concepts of static and dynamic equilibrium, and discusses contemporary climate change. The greenhouse effect is presented in a discussion of Mars, Venus and Earth, the "Goldilocks" planet. Two investigations support the chapter. The resource includes links to current news articles, and a suite of pre- and post-unit assessments. A teacher's guide supports classroom use. This is the sixth chapter in the unit, Energy Flow, exploring the flow of energy through the atmosphere, oceans, land, and living things over short and long timescales. The resource is part of Global System Science (GSS), an interdisciplinary course for high school students that emphasizes how scientists from a wide variety of fields work together to understand significant problems of global impact.
    AAAS Benchmarks: 4B/H4
  • How is the Atmosphere Changing?

    In this textbook chapter, students examine the data from Mauna Loa to see that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing. The seasonal signal observed in the data is explained by the growth cycle of plants in the Northern Hemisphere. Pre-industrial records of atmospheric becomes CO² are presented as evidence of the role of humans in increasing becomes CO² concentrations. This is the sixth chapter in the unit, Climate Change, which addresses the question of how human activities are changing Earth’s climate. The resource includes three classroom investigations, links to current news articles, and a suite of pre- and post-unit assessments. A teacher's guide supports classroom use. The resource is part of Global Systems Science (GSS), an interdisciplinary course for high school students that emphasizes how scientists from a wide variety of fields work together to understand significant problems of global impact.
    AAAS Benchmarks: 4B/M15
  • The Ozone Layer: Our Global Sunscreen

    This ChemMatters article provides a history of the study of ozone, a description of an experimental simulation called "The World Avoided," a brief introduction to the chemistry of ozone, an explanation of how ozone is measured, and the difference between "good" ozone in the stratosphere vs "bad" ozone in the troposhere. ChemMatters is an educational magazine published by the American Chemical Society.
    AAAS Benchmarks: 4B/M15
  • Carbon Dioxide: Production and Sequestration

    In this problem set, learners will refer to a satellite image to calculate the rate of carbon sequestration in the areas of bare land and forested lawn shown to answer a series of questions. Answer key is provided. This is part of Earth Math: A Brief Mathematical Guide to Earth Science and Climate Change.
    AAAS Benchmarks: 4B/H4, 4C/M7, 2C/M1
  • Carbon Dioxide Production at Home

    In this problem set, learners will consider the "Carbon Footprint" of a family of four in a given context, as well as the US and global averages, and compare that with their own to answer a series of questions. They will use an online Carbon Footprint calculator to determine their own per-capita carbon production. Answer key is provided. This problem is part of Earth Math: A Brief Mathematical Guide to Earth Science and Climate Change.
    AAAS Benchmarks: 2C/M1, 8C/M11, 2A/E1
  • What Is the Greenhouse Effect?

    In this introductory textbook chapter, students learn that life on Earth would not be possible without the atmosphere and its greenhouse effect. The history of research on the role of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is presented, and the concept of contemporary climate change and global warming are introduced. This is the first chapter in the unit, Climate Change, which addresses the question of how human activities are changing Earth's climate. The resource includes a textbook chapter, integrated hands-on and inquiry activities, links to current news articles, and a suite of pre and post unit assessments. A teacher's guide supports classroom use. The resource is part of Global Systems Science (GSS), an interdisciplinary course for high school students that emphasizes how scientists from a wide variety of fields work together to understand significant problems of global impact.
    AAAS Benchmarks: 4B/H4
  • El Niño

    This textbook chapter describes the processes through which El Niño and La Niña conditions emerge. The resource includes an animation of ocean currents, and links to current news articles, and a suite of pre- and post-unit assessments. A teacher's guide supports classroom use. This is the eighth chapter in the unit, Energy Flow, exploring the transfer of energy between the atmosphere, oceans, land, and living things over short and long timescales. The resource is part of Global System Science (GSS), an interdisciplinary course for high school students that emphasizes how scientists from a wide variety of fields work together to understand significant problems of global impact.
    AAAS Benchmarks: 4B/H5, 4B/M9, 4B/H2
  • Cloud Identification

    In this online, interactive module, students learn about the ten common cloud types and how they are formed and how to identify different cloud types on satellite images. The module is part of an online course for grades 7-12 in satellite meteorology, which includes 10 interactive modules. The site also includes lesson plans developed by teachers and links to related resources. Each module is designed to serve as a stand-alone lesson, however, a sequential approach is recommended. Designed to challenge students through the end of 12th grade, middle school teachers and students may choose to skim or skip a few sections.
    AAAS Benchmarks: 3A/M2, 4B/E3
  • Earth's Energy Budget: Seasonal Cycles in Net Radiative Flux

    Students examine CERES radiation data to understand how the Earth's tilt causes seasonal differences in incoming solar energy, and to explore how clouds, deserts and ice modulate the reflection of energy from the Sun. The investigation is conducted using the My NASA Data Live Access Server. This resource is part of the poster, Earth's Energy Budget, which describes the role of incoming solar radiation and the gases in the atmosphere and clouds in maintaining the Earth's temperature. The role of atmospheric becomes CO² in climate change and the environments of nearby planets are compared. along with career profiles of energy budget "detectives." A student crossword and matching game test vocabulary understanding.
    AAAS Benchmarks: 4B/H5
  • Logarithms: Taking the Curve Out

    Logarithms are very handy when dealing with numbers at different scales but they are also useful helping us average measurements of physical phenomena that have nonlinear behavior. In this example, students learn about cloud albedo and calculating cloud optical depth. This resource is from PUMAS - Practical Uses of Math and Science - a collection of brief examples created by scientists and engineers showing how math and science topics taught in K-12 classes have real world applications.
    AAAS Benchmarks: 11B/H1a, 9B/H3