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
  • MY NASA DATA: A Case Study of Local Trends in the Carbon Cycle

    This activity examines the relationship between carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and chlorophyll-a measurements in a watershed. Students analyze and compare two Excel plots-one showing carbon dioxide data values from the Keeling Curve and the other showing satellite data of chlorophyll-a concentrations. This lesson uses student- and citizen science-friendly microsets of authentic NASA Earth system science data from the MY NASA DATA project. It includes detailed procedures, analysis questions, teacher notes, related links, background information, lesson extensions, and a list of related AP Environmental Science topics.
    AAAS Benchmarks: 4B/H9, 5E/M1b, 9B/H4
  • 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
  • MY NASA DATA: Hurricanes: An Environment of Concern

    In this problem-based learning activity, students assume roles as senior science advisors for the Louisiana Environmental Agency. Student groups are assigned to the atmosphere, biosphere, lithosphere or hydrosphere and investigate the impacts of a recent hurricane in each sphere. Step-by-step instructions for use of the MY NASA DATA Live Access Server (LAS) guide students through selecting a data set, importing the data into a spreadsheet, creating graphs, and analyzing data plots. The lesson provides detailed procedures, related links and sample graphs, follow-up questions, extensions, and teacher notes. Designed for student use, MY NASA DATA LAS samples micro datasets from large scientific data archives, and provides structured investigations engaging students in exploration of real data to answer real world questions.
    AAAS Benchmarks: 4B/H5, 12B/H4
  • 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
  • MY NASA DATA: Scientist Tracking Network

    In this data activity, students explore the relationship between surface radiation and mean surface temperature in several geographic regions. By observing how these parameters change with latitude, students will understand the relationship between solar radiation and seasonal temperature variation. This activity is part of the MY NASA DATA Scientist Tracking Network unit, designed to provide practice in accessing and using authentic satellite data.
    AAAS Benchmarks: 4B/M9
  • 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
  • MY NASA DATA: Correlation of Variables by Graphing

    Activities in this lesson promote a fundamental understanding of relationships between graphed data. Sample graphs allow students to become familiar with interpreting data and to recognize relationships between variables. Additional microsets of atmospheric data (gases, clouds, pressures, temperatures, precipitation) are included. Students will use that data to predict the appearance of a graph, plot the data points, study the data pattern and draw a conclusion. In addition, students will determine if a relationship exists between two variables; leading to an understanding that relationships between variables can be more complicated than simple linear ones. This lesson uses student- and citizen science-friendly microsets of authentic NASA Earth system science data from the MY NASA DATA project. It also includes sample graphs, related links, extensions, and an online glossary.
    AAAS Benchmarks: 9D/H6a, 12B/H4, 9B/M3
  • MY NASA DATA: Investigating Seasonal Variability in NO2 Concentrations

    This lesson examines data in several formats in order to determine the presence or absence of seasonal variability in tropospheric nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations. Step-by-step instructions for use of the MY NASA DATA Live Access Server (LAS) guide students through selecting a data set, importing the data into a spreadsheet, creating graphs, and analyzing data plots. The lesson provides detailed procedures, related links and sample graphs, follow-up questions, extensions, and teacher notes. Designed for student use, MY NASA DATA LAS samples micro datasets from large scientific data archives, and provides structured investigations engaging students in exploration of real data to answer real world questions.
    AAAS Benchmarks: 3C/H4, 4B/M11bc, 9B/H4, 12B/H4
  • 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
  • How Much becomes CO² From a Gallon of Gas?

    In this problem set, students calculate precisely how much carbon dioxide is in a gallon of gasoline. A student worksheet provides step-by-step instructions as students calculate the production of carbon dioxide. The investigation is supported the textbook "Climate Change," part of "Global System Science," 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, 8C/H4
  • How does Ocean Temperature Affect Absorption of CO²?

    In this laboratory investigation, student teams discover that the ocean's capacity to dissolve carbon dioxide depends on its temperature, and consider the effect of a warming ocean on CO² absorption. The activity requires Bromothymol blue indicator solution (BTB), Alka Seltzer tablets, household ammonia, a heat source, and laboratory glassware. The investigation is supported by the textbook, Climate Change, which is part of Global System Science, 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/H2, 4B/H9
  • 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
  • Carbon Cycle: The Global Exchange of CO² Between the Ocean and the Atmosphere Activity

    In this laboratory activity, students experiment with becomes CO² concentrations in water as a prelude to investigating the marine carbon cycle. The activity includes a worksheet and assessment questions. Tap water, ocean water (real or simulated), universal indicator solution, beakers and straws are required materials. This resource is found in Rising Tides, a journal created for teachers and students reporting on current oceanography research conducted by NASA, NOAA, and university scientists, featuring articles, classroom activities, readings, teacher/student questions, and imagery for student investigation of marine science.
    AAAS Benchmarks: 4C/H1, 5A/H5, 5A/M5, 4B/H4
  • 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
  • Measuring the Heat Capacity of Greenhouse Gases

    This quantitative experiment involves lab teams in comparing a sample of room air with one of the greenhouse gases - carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, or methane - and measuring their heat capacity. The activity requires an infrared heat source, such as a heat lamp, two 2L beverage bottles, #4 one hole rubber stoppers, and a thermometer or temperature probe, volumetric flasks, a graduated cylinder, and tubing. Nitrous oxide can be obtained from a dentist, methane from gas jets in a chemistry lab, and becomes CO² can be generated using vinegar and baking soda. A worksheet guides student calculations of heat capacity of the different samples. The investigation s is supported by the textbook, Climate Change, part of the Global System Science, 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