What is the Student Climate Data project about?

The NICE Student Climate Data project is focused on introducing students to important concepts in Earth Systems Science and providing resources for inquiry-based climate change education. Students will become familiar with Earth observation data and the science of climate change by conducting their own research investigations using NASA Earth observation data and based on their own questions and/or self-designed procedures. This program design will allow students to explore research questions from local to global scales with both present and future environmental conditions. Because climate change is a long-term process, and is subject to a myriad of misconceptions, this effort will help develop the knowledge and skills of future generations in an area that is becoming increasingly important to society.

Why should we be interested in climate change?

Over the past 200 years, human activities including CO2 emissions, deforestation and other forms of land cover change, have caused concentrations of greenhouses gasses to build up in the atmosphere. This build up has caused many abrupt changes in the Earth's climate, including (but not limited to) increases in the Earth's average temperature, sea level rise, shrinking glaciers, changes in the range and distribution of plants and animals, lengthening of growing seasons, and thawing of permafrost. Changes in climate that have already begun will likely unfold over decades to centuries and will be shaped by the decisions of future generations. The impacts of climate change will likely be very broad, and it is uncertain how societies and the Earth's environment will adapt to, or cope with, climate change. Therefore, there is a need for both better public understanding and for an educated workforce that can apply knowledge of the climate system to formulation of sound energy and land management policies.

Who can participate?

The goal of this project is to allow participation by the whole international education community. Activities will be developed and tested locally in the U.S. In the end, we hope the activities are interesting and compatible with the science curricula of all schools that wish to participate.

What data will be used?

The Student Climate Data project uses data from General Circulation Climate Models, NASA satellites (primarily MODIS/TERRA instruments), and publicly available field data from our own research and other studies. Specific sources for each data resource or activity are documented on this site.

What do the students do?

Students will have access to data collected by scientists in the field, with satellites, or with climate models.  Students will then have the opportunity use these data resources to look at questions that scientists ask in their daily work, as well as to ask their own questions. Students will be encouraged to explore and answer these questions through individual and/or group research projects.

What grade levels can participate?

Activities are geared toward high school (ages 14-18) and middle school (student ages 12-14) students.

What is the duration?

The duration of the whole unit will depend on which activities you select based on teaching goals and prior student skills and knowlege. 

What technology is needed to participate (computer, internet access, software, etc.)?

Resources for this project will be available online at this website, and through links to other data resources. Teacher guides/instructions and student worksheets will be downloadable from this website. All student activities are being developed for use without the need for additional software purchases. Modeling activities require the use of the free isee player (to run STELLA models), and a spreadsheet program, such as Excel or OpenOffice, can be used to explore data in more detail.

Can I copy and share these materials?

Yes, this work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For more information, please see the Creative Commons License page. Educators may copy and adapt these materials for educational purposes. If citing in professional journals or incorporating into new educational materials, please cite this work in the following manner:

Martin et al. (2014). University of New Hampshire Student Climate Data Project. http://studentclimatedata.unh.edu

NASA logo  UNH logo