When Superstorm Sandy killed 24 people on Staten Island, Congressman Michael Grimm worked night and day to help constituents who lost loved ones and were left homeless by the storm. In Sandy’s wake, Grimm, a conservative Republican, didn’t believe humans have much to do with global warming. Correspondent Chris Hayes follows Grimm for a year to see what he can do for the residents of Staten Island – and what he might learn about climate change.
Students will use the stories in episode three to better understand the difference between weather and climate; and learn about weather phenomenon that, depending on their strength, can have significant impacts on global climate patterns.
- Students will examine evidence and sources of evidence to draw conclusions and make predictions.
- Students will analyze weather and climate maps and look for El Nino markers.
- Students will differentiate between weather and climate
Weather and climate are commonly misinterpreted by students as terms that are interchangeable. In fact these terms, while related, are different.
Weather is what we experience on a daily basis. It helps us decide what we should wear for the day or what to bring on an upcoming getaway in the next week. Weather is a prediction based on a variety of data collected in a variety of ways from ground stations to radars and weather maps are created to help us understand what to expect based on the evidence compiled by meteorologists. Climate on the other hand allows us to see long term patterns in weather data collected over time. *Note* “over time” to you and “over time” to your students are completely different, so over time in relation to climate is usually no less than thirty years. Climate can tell us many things from seasonal information and planting zones to increases in global temperatures or carbon dioxide.
El Niño events are weather phenomenon that, depending on their strength, can have significant impacts on global climate patterns. These events are characterized by large-scale warming of surface waters of the Pacific Ocean and occur every 3-6 years. An El Niño typically last from 6-9 months, but may continue upward of a year or more. The ability to predict El Niño’s has only been possible since the 1980’s, when computer technology allowed large amounts of complicated ocean-atmospheric interaction data to be collected and analyzed.
Their strength is estimated in surface atmospheric pressure anomalies and anomalies of land and sea surface temperatures. When El Nino’s occur people around the world suffer from its effects from severe, record breaking floods and droughts, to the intensification or lack of tornado, cyclone, and/or hurricane storm seasons.
For this lesson, students will need their Science notebooks, Internet access, and a set of data and maps, printed in color or projected on the screen.
Anomaly, climate, climate change, correlation, credible, currents, drought, El Niño/La Niña, emissions, evidence, fact, greenhouse gases, impact, local v. global, natural cycle, opinion, oscillation, paleoclimatology, qualitative data, quantitative data, sea surface temperature, science, trade winds, trend line, weather
Before beginning, assess your students’ prior knowledge around events and issues presented in the lesson. Have students take the Pre-Quiz. This will allow you to see the knowledge your students have prior to watching episode 3.
Ask each student to create a T-Chart in their science notebook, labeling one column Map 1 and the other column Map 2. Students will analyze the map for their similarities and differences and noting them in their T-Chart. Next, have students work with another pair to discuss their analysis of the maps. Did they come up with the same information? Any differences between groups?
Watch episode 3. As students watch each segment have them stop and answer each of the questions below in their science notebook. At the conclusion of all segments, encourage students to add to or modify their thinking.
There are several variables that play a role in predicting the start of an El Niño. In simplest terms they include abnormally warm sea surface temperatures, SST of the tropical Pacific, weakening of the trade winds, and changes in rainfall variability over the Pacific region. Students will be looking at these variables to make predictions about the next El Nino, based on the evidence they analyze.
You will provide students with a statement to which they will either agree or disagree. Assign a side of the room that will represent “agree” and a side of the room that will represent “disagree”. Explain there is no middle ground, thus the title – Take a Stand.
The interactive online quiz provides instant feedback about your knowledge of this subject. The justified true/false questions are meant for use in the classrooms.
Taking actions and/or designing solutions to our local, national, and global problems are a personal journey. Via Facebook and Twitter (#YEARSproject), share how you are taking action to combat climate change or if you’ve designed potential solutions share those on Instagram or make a Vine.
Without language there is no science. To be practicing scientists and derive new knowledge, we need language – reading, writing, talking, listening, enacting, and visualizing. Writing is one way to communicate understanding of our learning while allowing us to be creative in our delivery and provide insight and possible solutions to problems.
Inspired by Episode 3? Thinking about your future? You have the power to make a difference today and in the future. Look into careers inspired by the issues presented in Episode 3: The Surge.
Use the following print and online resources to supplement your understanding of the material covered in this lesson.
Download the standards tables for Middle School Lesson 3: 21st-Century Skills and NGSS, CCSS, and NCSS.
Download a printable PDF lesson plan for Middle School Lesson 3, including justified true-false form and formatted standards tables.