Arctic Curriculum: Arctic Feedbacks

Arctic Curriculum Series:

Arctic Feedbacks

 

Grade levels: 7-12

Connections to the NGSS: 

 

  • ESS2.A: Earth Materials and Systems 
  • ESS2.D: Weather and Climate 

 

Unit Overview

 

“Arctic Feedbacks” is a middle school/high school earth science unit focused on weather and climate as it relates to Earth’s system. The unit is anchored by the Arctic amplification phenomenon and focuses on the unit driving question, “Why might the Arctic be warming twice as fast as the rest of the world?”. The unit consists of ten unique lessons, each tied to the NGSS Earth’s systems standards. Each lesson provides students with evidence they will use to explain the unit driving question in a final descriptive model and written explanation.

Go to Unit Summary


 

Arctic amplification Lesson 1: Eliciting

In this lesson, students work in pairs to construct initial descriptive models and explanations for the anchoring phenomenon, “why might the Arctic be warming twice as fast as the rest of the world?”

Driving Question: Why should we care about the Arctic?

Learning Goals:

  • Define and describe the geography of the Arctic
  • Elicit student ideas why the Arctic might be warming twice as fast as the rest of the world.

Standards: ESS2.A: Earth Materials and Systems & ESS2.D: Weather and Climate

 


 

Earth Lesson 2: Earth's Energy Budget

In this lesson, students will identify and describe properties of the electromagnetic spectrum in the context of Earth’s energy budget. 

Driving Question: How does Earth maintain the perfect balance of incoming and outgoing energy?

Learning Goals: 

  • Identify and describe properties energy in the electromagnetic spectrum
  • Create a model that represents Earth’s energy budget

Standards: ESS2.D: Weather and Climate 

 


 

Greenhouse effect Lesson 3: Greenhouse Effect

In this lesson, students explore the relationship between shortwave/longwave energy and atmospheric gases through a simulation and predict how changes in greenhouse gas concentrations will affect global temperatures.

Driving Question: What characteristics define a greenhouse gas? What is the greenhouse effect?

Learning Goals: 

  • Identify and describe the relationship between shortwave/longwave energy and atmospheric gases
  • Describe the greenhouse effect using the following vocabulary terms: shortwave energy, longwave energy, greenhouse gases

Standards: ESS2.D: Weather and Climate 


 

Arctic fieldwork Lesson 4: Arctic Fieldwork

In this lesson students will visit MOSAiC field sites through virtual reality Google Expeditions and interact with actual shortwave and longwave energy datasets from the Arctic to understand how the Arctic energy budget has changed over time.

Driving Questions: 

  • What scientific instruments are MOSAiC scientists using to study the changing Arctic climate system?
  • How has the amount of incoming shortwave energy and outgoing longwave energy changed over time?

Learning Goals: 

  • Identify patterns in shortwave and longwave energy over time.
  • Develop scientific questions related to shortwave and longwave energy datasets.

Standards: ESS2.D: Weather and Climate 

 


 

Lesson 5: Model Revision Lesson 5: Model Revision

In this lesson, students draw on concepts and evidence acquired during the unit to revise their initial models, constructing a new model for the unit driving question, “Why is the Arctic warming twice as fast as the rest of the world?”

Driving Question: Why do scientists continue to gather evidence and revise models of phenomenon?

Learning Goal: Reflect on learning by applying evidence gathered from previous lessons to revise initial models/explanations.

Standards: ESS2.D: Weather and Climate 
 


 

 

Measuring Albedo Lesson 6: Measuring Albedo

In this lesson, students will use the “Albedo: A Reflectance App” to measure the reflectance (albedo) of different surfaces and come up with a rule to describe the relationship between the color of a surface and it’s albedo.

Driving Questions:

  • What is the relationship between the color of a surface and it’s albedo?
  • What happens to energy that is not reflected by a surface?
  • How could a decline in sea ice affect the Arctic’s albedo and temperature?

Learning Goals:

  • Describe the relationship between the color and albedo
  • Describe the relationship between albedo and temperature

Standards: ESS2.A: Earth Materials and Systems  


 

Sea ice and sun Lesson 7: Ice-Albedo Feedback

In this lesson, students analyze maps to calculate and compare changes in the Arctic's albedo.

Driving Question: 

  • What is a feedback loop?
  • How does a decline in Arctic sea ice lead to further melting of sea ice?

Learning Goal: Describe the ice-albedo feedback loop

Standards: ESS2.A: Earth Materials and Systems

 

Ice-albedo feedback Lesson 8: Model Testing

In this lesson, students test their models by matching their ideas against real-world data about the phenomenon: Arctic amplification.

Driving Question: Can we use real-world data to confirm or refute our model/understanding of the anchoring phenomenon?

Learning Goal: Identify and explain patterns in data.

Standards: ESS2.A: Earth Materials and Systems
 


 

Final model construction Lesson 9: Building Consensus: Final Model Construction

In this lesson, students draw on concepts and evidence acquired during the unit to construct final models for the unit driving question, "Why might the Arctic be warming twice as fast as the rest of the world?"

Driving Question: Why do scientists continue to gather evidence and revise models of phenomenon?

Learning Goal: Construct a descriptive model for the unit driving question, why is the Arctic warming twice as fast as the rest of the world?

Standards: ESS2.A: Earth Materials and Systems & ESS2.D: Weather and Climate

 


 

Final explanation Lesson 10: Final Explanation

In this lesson, students work independently to write their final evidence-based explanations for the unit driving question,“Why is the Arctic warming twice as fast as the rest of the world?

Driving Question: Why might the Arctic be warming twice as fast as the rest of the world?

Learning Goal: Construct a written explanation for the unit driving question, why is the Arctic warming twice as fast as the rest of the world?

Standards: ESS2.A: Earth Materials and Systems & ESS2.D: Weather and Climate