Lab 1: Climate, Weather, and Trees

The lab activities in this module were developed by Betsy Youngman of TERC for the EarthLabs project.

Summary and Learning Objectives

Students are introduced to the maple syrup industry in the United States. They consider the habitat and living conditions of a typical maple tree, and the ideal weather conditions for maple syrup production. Students download, graph, and analyze long-term weather and climate data and hypothesize about the factors that contribute to the annual variations in maple syrup production. This lab introduces an essential theme that recurs throughout the module: the relationship between climate and the biosphere.

After completing this investigation, students will be able to:

  • define weather and climate, and describe how they can be determined at various spatial scales (micro-climate, city-level, state, regional) and for various time periods (hour, day, month, year, decade, etc.);
  • distinguish between weather and climate; and
  • explain the relationship between climate and the biosphere.

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Overview and Teaching Materials

Detailed overview of what students will do in each lab activity, how long it will take, and what materials are required to complete the lab.

Printable Materials

Download and print files needed for each lab activity, including images, data tables, and Stop and Think questions.

Teaching Notes and Tips

General recommendations for classroom implementation as well as guidelines and facilitation tips for leading class discussions.

Student Notebooks

Suggestions for how to use Student Notebooks for Lab 1.


There are several options for assessment of student understanding of material introduced in this lab. Choose from the following list, or create your own assessments.

Science Standards

Lab 1 supports following Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Additional Resources

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