My NASA Data - GLOBE Digital Earth Systems Poster and Activity Guide

Type Category
Instructional Materials
Tool/Software , Model , Map , Instructor Guide/Manual , Image/Image Set , Data , Activity
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.



The My NASA DATA - GLOBE Digital Earth System Poster website allows a user to select, view, and download bimonthly summary data, in the form of world images/maps and animated gifs, for insolation, surface temperature, cloud fraction, precipitation, aerosols, and biosphere annually for 2005 to 2012, the last year for complete data. For classrooms with limited technology, printable posters for 1987 and 2007 are available as an alternative to the interactive website and can be downloaded from Earth System Science Posters.  The GLOBE Earth System Poster Learning Activities Guide provides 5 classroom activities, 3 assessment activities, and extension activities for use with the digital or paper poster images. The purpose of these resources is to provide students with access to real Earth system datasets in a manageable format so that they may seek out patterns and relationships between parameters.

Intended Audience

Educational Level
  • Grade 12
  • Grade 11
  • Grade 10
  • Grade 9
  • High School
Access Restrictions

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

Performance Expectations

HS-ESS3-5 Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth systems.

Clarification Statement: Examples of evidence, for both data and climate model outputs, are for climate changes (such as precipitation and temperature) and their associated impacts (such as on sea level, glacial ice volumes, or atmosphere and ocean composition).

Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to one example of a climate change and its associated impacts.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
In Activities 1 - 4 of the Guide, students are assigned tasks of increasing complexity with the goal of investigating patterns within the provided datasets. Starting with observing the information found within a single image, students progress to finding patterns throughout an entire year’s worth of images, pinpointing relationships between variables and, finally, analyzing a single map to determine the occurrence of relationships between and among the six variables. It should be noted that the guide was written in 2007. Since then, the GLOBE Project has released surface maps for 2008-2012. In order to support the Performance Expectation, teachers should utilize this additional data by tasking students to determine if observable changes in the given parameters have occurred within this time period. This additional information may be used as evidence when students discuss the current rate of climate change.

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
In this activity set, students are explicitly asked to analyze data found on surface maps. Each map that the students analyze is the result of millions of individual data points. These data points are processed and mapped to make them more accessible to evaluate for patterns, relationships and trends. This is an example of the use of technology to process large datasets into an easily accessible form, in this case maps. Teachers could engage students in a discussion about what it means to have this data available as maps. Possible questions for students include: What do you think the raw data used to create a given map looks like? If you were given the raw data, how would you analyze it? What is the benefit of having this data presented to you in maps versus raw numbers? What are the limitations created when the data are presented as maps?

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
Teachers should utilize the guiding questions, especially those in Activities 2-4, to draw students into discussions to address the core idea. For example, students should be encouraged to examine patterns and relationships between Insolation and Surface Temperature or between Cloud Fraction and Precipitation. In order to complete the Disciplinary Core Idea, teachers will need to pair this activity with an additional one involving earth’s solar budget or engage students in additional discussions about reflection, absorption, storage, and redistribution. Possible questions might include: Is there any evidence within the maps that can be used to explain what happens to the sun’s energy when it enters the atmosphere? How is the sun’s energy reflected, absorbed, or stored differently on land versus ocean?

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
Activities 1-4 in the Guide focus specifically upon a student's ability to identify patterns in the global datasets. Students progress from identifying annual patterns for a single parameter in Activity 2 to developing explanations for relationships between the patterns seen across parameters in Activities 3 and 4. Teachers should use the guiding questions within the activities to engage students in describing the patterns they see within a single map (Activity 1), across maps of the same parameter throughout an annual cycle (Activity 2), between maps of different parameters (Activities 3 and 4), and within specific regions of specific maps (Extensions).

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
The activities in this guide provide visual data that allows students to identify relationships between the given parameters. The activities do not explicitly address identification of which relationships are causal and which are correlational; however, along with the student’s own understandings developed in Middle School (ESS2.D: Weather and Climate), these activities provide an opportunity for the students to explore this crosscutting concept. Teachers should engage the students in a discussion of cause versus correlation. As an extension, teachers could ask students to research and present evidence that empirically supports the case for cause and effect between parameters, especially insolation and the other parameters. For example, what evidence would support the idea that insolation has a causal effect on surface temperature and not visa versa?

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: The GLOBE Earth Systems Poster and Activity Guide provides strong integration of all three dimensions to support the Performance Expectation. In order to succeed, students must engage in observing and analyzing datasets (Practice) in order to identify patterns (Cross Cutting Concept). Both of these dimensions are then utilized to make sense of and support the Disciplinary Core Idea.

  • Instructional Supports: While working through the activities described in the guide, students are engaged in authentic and relevant scenarios reflecting the practice of science in real world situations. The activities utilize scientifically accurate and grade appropriate information. The guiding questions included with the activities provide an opportunity for students to discuss their ideas and to receive feedback from both peers and their teachers. The guide does not provide any guidance for differentiation or support for struggling students.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: Formative assessments, in the form of guiding questions, are provided as a way for teachers to monitor student understanding and progress. Simple summative assessments are also included. The guide does not supply aligned rubrics or scoring criteria to assess student understanding.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: Students are viewing maps and animations. No interactivity is present.