Biomes and Climatology Comparison

Contributor
Betsy Youngman Betsy Youngman
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Activity , Lesson/Lesson Plan
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

Reviews

Description

In this lab students will work with Google Earth to explore temperature patterns, biome types, and climatographs from selected cities around the world. As they work  through the links and images in this activity, students can explore how climate, a long-term average of weather patterns, shapes the life of a region. This is lab 4 of a series of 7 labs on climate and the biosphere. It is estimated that this lab will take between 150 - 180 minutes.


This website has alternative lessons for classrooms without access to Google Earth. The climate maps can be found in lab 3 of the larger unit.

Intended Audience

Educator and learner
Educational Level
  • High School
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

HS-ESS2-2 Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth's surface can create feedbacks that cause changes to other Earth systems.

Clarification Statement: Examples should include climate feedbacks, such as how an increase in greenhouse gases causes a rise in global temperatures that melts glacial ice, which reduces the amount of sunlight reflected from Earth's surface, increasing surface temperatures and further reducing the amount of ice. Examples could also be taken from other system interactions, such as how the loss of ground vegetation causes an increase in water runoff and soil erosion; how dammed rivers increase groundwater recharge, decrease sediment transport, and increase coastal erosion; or how the loss of wetlands causes a decrease in local humidity that further reduces the wetland extent.

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this performance expectation, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
This lesson allows students begin to gain proficiency with the Performance Expectation by exploring a variety of geoscience data (average temperatures, wind patterns, etc) and analyze how differences in the data lead to a variety of climates, weather patterns and biomes over a given region. Students can Engage in Arguing from Evidence to explain the result of changes in average temperature on a given biome. Increased temperatures in a mostly snow/ice region will cause the snow/ice to decrease. This will affect the biome types in the region, as well decrease the reflectivity of the Earth leading to increased temperatures. Students will need to research the effect of geophysical changes in order to explain the feedbacks. This is not included in the lesson, but the included geophysical data will allow students to see trends in the data over time.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this science and engineering practice, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
This activity has students analyzing data (temperature patterns, climatographs) to see relationships between the geophysical data and biome types. Students use Google Earth to explore locations around the world. Students can explore average temperatures both across geographically distant longitudes and latitudes to look for similarities and differences in biome types. Using the trends observed in the geophysical data, students can predict what will happen over time.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Using the geophysical data, students can begin to develop proficiency with the Disciplinary Core Idea by compare biome types in potentially geographically distant locations with the same average temperatures or climate with areas that have vastly different average temperatures to see how temperature range effects biome types. After exploring a variety of regions, students can use the trends in the data (i.e. average temperature increase in ice covered regions) to predict what will happen in the future. Students will need to research the effect of geophysical changes in order to explain the feedbacks. This is not included in the lesson, but the included geophysical data will allow students to see trends in the data over time. Increased temperature in ice covered regions will melt the ice, which will lower the reflectivity of the Earth, which will increase heat absorption, which will increase average temperatures. Increased temperatures in forested regions may kill off types of trees, this will lead to more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which will increase temperatures and kill off more trees.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Students can use the geophysical data provided to argue from evidence about how a variety of biome types would change if the average temperature of a region were to change. Although not included in the activity, average temperature changes over time could be used by students to predict if a region’s current biome types would remain stable or change.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This lesson aligns well to the Practice of Analyzing and Interpreting Data. Students have numerous opportunities to explore the data sets and explain the locations of biome types. The data sets allow exploration of the disciplinary core idea of Earth’s systems being dynamic and interactive which can lead to feedback effects that cause changes. Proficiency towards the crosscutting concept of Stability and Change can be gained by the students using argument from evidence after exploring the data sets. Students can argue for the stability of a given biome type if the geophysical data for that region changes (i.e. average temperature fluctuations over time). Students will need to research the effect of geophysical changes in order to explain the feedbacks. This is not included in the lesson, but the included geophysical data will allow students to see trends in the data over time.

  • Instructional Supports: The lesson engages students in authentic science as they view data and use the data to make sense of phenomena. Student data sheets are not provided. This lesson does not provide any rubrics for student argumentation. Teachers could have students explore various portions of the data sets and argue from evidence. Students could look at average temperatures for a variety of latitudes and longitudes and argue from evidence why a given biome type is in each region (based on the temperature data). Differentiation for students of varying educational levels is not provided in this lesson. Teachers could have advanced students research the effects of the observed trends in the data to discover potential feedback possibilities.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The lesson does not have any built in methods for monitoring student progress. The teacher can introduce several ‘Arguing from Evidence’ sections for students to explain what they have learned from the data up to that point. This could be done by having students explain possible future effects based on trends seen in the data (i.e.: increase in average temperature over time in a region).

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: This activity uses Google Earth to explore several data sets. The lesson includes detailed instructions for downloading and setting up Google Earth and the KMZ data files. The website provides alternative lessons for classrooms without access to Google Earth. It is suggested that Google Earth and the associated KMZ files are loaded on all student computers in advance of starting this activity.