This page contains classroom activities that serve as the lab manual for The Teacher-Friendly Guideᵀᴹ to Climate Change. Activities, many of which have accompanying videos, are searchable by topic and grade level, and include an overview, NGSS standards, materials lists and instructions, handouts, and background information.
April 21, 2023: This page is under development. Please check back as we continue to add resources! If you plan to bookmark any of these activities, please also note that the URLs of these activities may change as we continue development.
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Adapting a Garden to Heavy Rain
Students learn through play in this activity where they devise, create, and test ideas for protecting a garden from heavy rains.
Build a Wind-Powered Machine
This activity involves building a tiny, wind-powered elevator: a small cup lifted by a pinwheel. You could use the elevator to lift things from the ground floor to the second floor of a house you make from shoe boxes.
Divert and Capture Heavy Rains
Students build small paper houses and design and build structures such as gutters and rain gardens to divert and capture rainwater. They then test their designs with simulated rain.
DIY Solar Energy: Photosynthetic Solar Cells
Using materials like iodine, blackberry juice, and a few specialized components, students will create a working solar cell that mimics the process of photosynthesis.
Students measure the flux of carbon dioxide from soil to the atmosphere using a lab CO2 probe and home-made flux chambers. The experiment can be designed to allow students to manipulate the experimental conditions, and explore the relationship between temperature and respiration, pointing to an important consequence of global climate change.
Sunlight Stored in Soil
Students measure a soil temperature profile to explore the effect of energy from the Sun on the shallow subsurface environment. Multiple temperature profiles allow students to analyze the daily change in energy that diffuses into the subsurface, and its differential impact near the surface and at depth.
Students use basic thermometers to measure air temperatures under different conditions, draw conclusions about why air temperatures differ in these conditions, and apply what they've learned to strategies for staying cool during extreme heat events.
Thermal Expansion of Water
In this activity we calculate the coefficient of thermal expansion for tap water. Students will heat water in a long-necked glass bottle to explore the relationship between temperature and volume of water. Quantifying the initial volume, change in volume, and the initial and final temperatures allows students to calculate the coefficient of thermal expansion.
Timeline: How Long Ago Was The Last Glacial Maximum?
Students work together to create a rope timeline that illustrates time scales of thousands of years compared with human lifetimes.
Vision for a Better Climate Future
Students use art to express their vision of what a better climate future could look like in their community, and how we could achieve this.
Students build a simple wind dial (anemometer) and explore how pine cones can tell us about humidity in the air.
Women, Climate, Past, Present, and Future
For International Women's Day, Alexandra Moore, one of PRI's women climate scientists, has created short video features on some of the activities that she engages in across a typical day. This toolkit includes these videos along with student activities that match the theme of each film.