Initial Publication Date: July 5, 2011

Lab 6: Trees and Paleoclimate: How Do We Know What We Know?

The lab activity described here was created by Betsy Youngman of TERC for the EarthLabs project.

Summary and Learning Objectives

Students view graphs of changing global, regional, and local temperatures from both proxy sources (e.g., tree rings; fossilized pollen) and instrumental records. They then collect and analyze a simulated sediment core from a freshwater lake and view maps and animations that demonstrate how preferred habitats of tree species migrate in concert with climate change.

After completing this investigation, students will be able to:

  • explain what "proxy data" is and give examples of how proxy data provides information about climate of the past

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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 6.


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 6 supports following Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Additional Resources

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