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Climate week warm up—let’s analyze some data

September 21, 2019

This week is climate week, and on Friday, I wanted to have a short assignment that would get my students thinking about climate change before we headed out for our observance of the worldwide climate strike.

I decided I would create short warm up activity where I would give students a data set of some quantity. I anonymized each data set so that all students knew is that they were analyzing a time series of data for some quantity and asked them to spend 5 minutes analyzing and making a graph, and then we would share our work with the class. After each presentation, I then revealed what the dataset was.

Here’s the data I used

  • Data set 1: CO2 concentration from 1958.
  • Data set 2: Arctic Sea ice extent in September for the past 40 years
  • Data Set 3: Global temperature anomalies for the past 140 years (January Measurements)
  • Data Set 4: global Temperature Anomalies for the past 140 years (September measurements)
  • Data Set 5:Area of the Agassiz Glacier in Glacier National Park for the past 120 years

I shared an empty Google slides presentation with the class, and asked each group to produce one slide with their graph and any observations they made in 5 minutes of analysis.

Here’s the reveal slide deck I created which explains what each of the datasets are.

This turned out to be a great 10 minute activity. Students were able to figure out easily how to make scatter plots in Google sheets, and came up with all sorts of other insights. Everyone was taken aback when they realized the origin of each dataset and its implications.

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