Arctic Climate Curriculum, Activity 1: Exploring the Arctic
This activity introduces students to the Arctic, including different definitions of the Arctic and exploration of the Arctic environment and Arctic people. Students set out on a virtual exploration of the geography of the Arctic using Google Earth. Students go on to learn about meteorological parameters that are measured by Arctic research teams and practice the measurements in hands-on activities.
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
How the activity is situated in the course
Content/concepts goals for this activity
- Define what the Arctic is
- Describe the Arctic environment
- Rationalize why people study the Arctic
- Describe geographic extent of the Arctic
- Describe differences between mid-latitudes and the Arctic latitudes
- Locate Arctic research stations using Google Earth.
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Other skills goals for this activity
- Using Google Earth
- Using instruments to measure meteorological parameters.
Description of the activity/assignment
In this activity students brainstorm their knowledge about the Arctic and build a concept map of different aspects of the Arctic environment. Students try to define the Arctic and after peer-review correct their definitions.
Assessments: Concept Maps, Peer-review of Definition of Arctic, Worksheet questionsPart B: A Virtual Trip to the Arctic (time in classroom required: two 45-minute class periods)
Students take a virtual tour of the Arctic and Arctic research sites using Google Earth.
Assessments: Google Earth kmz files, worksheet questions, Thinking Further questionsPart C: Collecting Your Own Meteorological Data (time in classroom required: two to three 45-minute class periods)
Students conduct hands-on experiments measuring albedo, relative humidity, and soil temperature using simple classroom methods. In this jigsaw activity, they regroup and analyze the data in teams and discuss questions that have them think further. Then they research and identify scientific instruments at the Eureka Arctic meteorological tower.
Assessments: Data collection sheets, responses to discussion questionsExtension Activity I: Using ImageJ for Albedo Measurements (time required: one 45-minute class period)
Students use ImageJ, a free image processing software, to measure albedo digitally on images of their own choice.
Assessment: Estimated and measured albedo values
Determining whether students have met the goals
Assessments are included in each part of the activity.
- Concept maps (individual, group, and whole-class concept map)
- Definition of Arctic including revisiting/refining of definitions
- Google Earth kmz files
- Worksheet questions
- "Thinking Deeper" questions
Download teaching materials and tips
- All of the materials needed to teach this activity are hosted on the CIRES Arctic Climate Curriculum website. Here you will find a teacher's guide, solution set, student worksheets, background reading and supporting graphics. There is also a video presentation by the research scientists who are currently engaged in the scientific mission upon which these activities are based.
- Arctic Climate Curriculum Overview (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 4.2MB Apr28 14) This document contains an outline of all three parts of the curriculum, describes the rationale behind curriculum development and alignment with Next Generation Science Standards and Colorado Science Standards, and contains a list of all the teaching materials that were developed for this project.
- Anne U. Gold, Karin Kirk, Deb Morrison, Susan Lynds, Susan Buhr Sullivan, Andrey Grachev & Ola Persson (2015) Arctic Climate Connections Curriculum: A Model for Bringing Authentic Data Into the Classroom, Journal of Geoscience Education, 63:3, 185-197, DOI: 10.5408/14-030.1