IISG’s Weather and Climate Toolkit
Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG) has created a weather and climate education toolkit where teachers—whether parents, home school tutors or licensed professionals—can find resources on the topics of weather, climate and climate change. The toolkit provides a sortable list of external resources and can be filtered by grade level, specific weather and climate subtopics or geographic locations, learning mode and more. Filtering by scale can identify educational resources unique to the Great Lakes. Many of the lesson plans and activities in this curated catalog of resources can be used as-is or adapted for virtual learning and at-home teaching environments.
External Curriculum Materials
Impacts on Water: Our Region’s Vital Resource
A concise, easy-to-read flow chart of cascading effects of climate change on Great Lakes water resources.
Ice Cover on the Great Lakes
NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory describes long-term fluctuations in ice coverage in the Great Lakes.
Activity A: What is the ecological role of an estuary?
In this investigation, students use various sets of data to examine some of the characteristics of the estuary at Old Woman Creek,near Huron, Ohio. Students learn about the methods used by ecologists to sample populations of plant and animal life in aquatic ecosystems, the living communities that are found in different depths of water in an estuary, and how plant communities are important to animal life in an estuary.
Activity B: How do estuaries impact nutrients entering a lake?
Students analyze a map and data to learn how estuaries affect nutrient levels as water enters a lake.
They make predictions about how the effects of climate change might affect an estuary’s ability to improve water quality and function properly.
Trees on the Move: Can Maples and Buckeyes Migrate?
Activity A: What do climate models predict about tree ranges?
This lesson introduces examples of how General Circulation Models [GCMs] predict possible scenarios of climate change. Three methods of visualizing change are introduced and students compare how sugar maples and buckeye trees’ climate niches are likely to be altered.
Activity B: How can trees migrate?
The seeds of maples and buckeyes are “dispersed” in an outdoor simulation of how far a tree species might be able to spread over several tree generations.
Activity C: How does temperature affect maple seed germination?
Students examine research data on seed germination at different temperatures to infer some of the impacts of temperature on species survival.
Activity D: After the maples, then what?
Students study an outdoor area that has sugar maples and other species. Following research methods of Catherine Keever, they catalog the size and relative abundance of species in the plot and infer what species is likely to succeed if maples disappear.
Climate Change and Aquatic Invaders
Using a jigsaw pedagogical strategy, students research aquatic invasive species and then manipulate cards to identify aquatic invasive species and explain the effects of global climate change on these species.
Cars on Trial: How do energy use decisions influence global climate change?
In this activity, students will role play a courtroom trial to discuss energy use as it is related to climate change in order to: (1) recognize several pros and cons regarding the use of automobiles in America (or Canada); (2) think critically about the complexity of reducing the amount that Americans (or Canadians) drive cars; and (3) understand the basic effects of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Water Levels on the Great Lakes
In this activity students analyze, interpret and make inferences from web-based data on Great Lakes water levels. Students interpret graphic information about water level fluctuations in the Great Lakes in order to examine the relationship between temperature and precipitation and corresponding changes in lake levels, and learn how changing water levels within the Great Lakes region impact ecosystem health and the people who live there.
How will climate change affect a Great Lakes state?
To make climate change relevant to students, they need examples of changes that are occurring or are expected in areas and enterprises near them. If it doesn’t snow, what happens to winter recreation? If it doesn’t rain, what happens to production of corn and dairy products? If the water levels change, will fish be able to find places to spawn? This lesson uses examples of climate change from one Great Lakes state, Ohio, to determine local relevance of climate change. When students have completed this activity, they will recognize that global climate change will have consequences for the environment and economy of individual states, and be able to give examples of state issues and the consequences of global climate change.
Visualizing Changes in the Great Lakes
Whenever people talk about the future, they form a mental image of what things will be like. They think about themselves and the things they know about, and in their imagination build a new picture of what they can expect. As we consider the impacts of climate change on the Great Lakes, there are a number of ways of visualizing those changes. In this activity, students will construct a web of things that may increase or decrease as a result of a changing climate. Constructing a concept map will enable students to list and explain many potential impacts of climate change and discuss various interpretations of the possible impacts of climate change.