One of the biggest challenge our students' generation will face is climate change. Scientists for many years have linked the increased average global temperatures to the increased amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. These gases act like the glass in a greenhouse - letting radiation through, which warms the planet, but not allowing the heat to escape. Engineers are working around the world to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, building more efficient gas powered cars or even electric cars that have the potential to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide we put into our atmosphere.
Global Warming Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers
The scientific community is in good agreement that the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is causing an increase in average global temperatures, known as the greenhouse effect. This is where the Sun's radiation enters the Earth's atmosphere. This radiation has a range of wavelengths. The Earth absorbs this radiation and emits it as infrared radiation. Some of the radiation is radiated back into space, but some of this infrared radiation is absorbed by the greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere. This causes the atmosphere to warm up.
Storyboard That is a great way for students to combine images and text in a creative way to produce quick and clear scientific diagrams. Students are going to recreate a model of the greenhouse effect using arrows to show how radiation moves. Have your students use Textables to then label each of the main parts.
Have your students put key vocabulary into practice. One of the things students can find really difficult is using scientific vocabulary correctly and in the appropriate context. Using a visual representation or visual examples as well as a written one can really help students understand abstract concepts.
Example Global Warming Vocabulary
Carbon dioxide is compound with a chemical formula of CO2. It is a product of combustion and also is a greenhouse gas.
Fossil fuels are nonrenewable fuels formed from the remains of living organisms, formed over millions of years.
The movement of carbon from the atmosphere through living things and back into the atmosphere again is called the carbon cycle.
Combustion is a chemical reaction involving oxygen and a fuel, also known as burning.
The Greenhouse Effect
The Greenhouse Effect is the process by which greenhouse gases, such as methane, water vapor, and carbon dioxide, stop heat from escaping through the atmosphere, insulating the Earth. This effect can cause global warming.
Discussion storyboards are a great way to get your students talking about their ideas in Science. They allow students to critique and evaluate different viewpoints without upsetting other students. This activity can be used at the start of the topic to elicit any misconceptions students may have.
At first, show students a discussion storyboard like the one below. Ask them to look at the problem on the discussion storyboard. It shows four students who all have an idea about the problem in front of them. Students should think about whom they think is the most correct and be prepared to explain why that person is correct.
Here are some other ideas to use these discussion storyboards in your lessons.
Students add another cell on the end of the example you’ve given them to explain whom they think is correct and why.
Students create their own discussion storyboards to share with peers on the current topic.
Note that the template in this assignment is blank. After clicking "Copy Assignment", add your desired problem and solutions to match the needs of your students.
Global warming has been linked to many changes on Earth. Ice has been melting worldwide as global temperatures have increased. This melting ice alongside the thermal expansion of the oceans is leading to an increase in sea levels. Rising sea levels could lead to more coastal flooding and could damage some aquatic habitats. The change in temperatures can also affect populations of animals. An example of this are the Adélie penguins, who have had a reduction in the amount of space they can dwell in Antarctica. This change in habitat has led to a reduction in their numbers. More extreme weather, like hurricanes and storms, is experienced by many parts of the world. Floods and droughts could also become more common as the planet’s temperature increases further.
Students will look at some to the effects that global warming has on our planet. This activity could be carried out at the start of the topic to gauge students ideas, or at the end of a topic as a summative assessment to see what your students have learned.
As an extension, have your students rank the effects in order of severity, then get them to justify why they chose that order. Have students look at how different parts of the world are affected by climate change.
In this activity your students will look in more detail at different processes that contribute to global warming by releasing greenhouse gases, such as methane, water vapor, and carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere. Processes like burning, also known as combustion, and deforestation contribute to global warming as they cause an increase of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
There are natural processes that release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere such as respiration, decomposition, and volcanic eruptions. As an extension, have your students complete this activity again just using natural processes that contribute to the greenhouse effect.
This could be used as a stimulus for discussion on how we as a planet can reduce the amount of greenhouse gases we release into the atmosphere.
Get your students to think of different ways can reduce their carbon footprint and reduce their impact on global warming.
There are many ways to move around, but most of these transport options use fossil fuels. Cars use gas, buses use diesel, ships use fuel oil, and airplanes used jetfuel; all of these, when burned, produce carbon dioxide that is released into our atmosphere. Trains are either powered by overhead cables or by diesel engines. Even though electric trains don’t have internal combustion engines, on board they do use electricity, which has most likely been generated by burning fossil fuels.
There are many ways we can work to reduce the effect we have on the environment. The suggested activities in this assignment are driving to work, turning your heating up too high, throwing a soda can in the trash, and taking short flights. You can change these easily to anything you want or even let your students decide on the activities. Students will then create a storyboard cell to show how to make the activity greener.
This activity could provide a great stimulus for a class discussion on what your students can do to reduce their carbon footprint and reduce their contribution to global warming.
Make this more challenging for students by giving them a theme for their activities. For example, ask your students to think of ways to be greener in school. Alternatively, have your students research what activities release the largest amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and then think of greener alternatives for those activities.
The amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere has been increasing since the industrial revolution. From the late 18th century, the rise of machines powered by burning fossils fuels led to amazing growth in manufacturing. These machines were mostly powered by burning large amounts of coal. Coal is made of mainly carbon and when burned, produces carbon dioxide. The word equation for combustion is fuel + oxygen → carbon dioxide + water.
Although now mills and factories mainly are powered using electricity, humans around the world still rely on fossil fuels, such as crude oil and coal, as some of our main energy resources. To find out more about how carbon moves to and from the atmosphere and living things, check out our teacher guide on the carbon cycle. Another action that has an effect on the amount of carbon dioxide is deforestation. Deforestation is the act of clearing trees away from an area and not replacing by more trees. Photosynthesis is a process that removes carbon from the atmosphere. It is a chemical reaction that plants use to make their own food.
Scientists have noted that the average temperatures on Earth have been increasing. They believe one contributing factor of this is the greenhouse effect. This effect is caused by the buildup of greenhouse gases, such as methane, water vapor, and carbon dioxide. Methane can come from decomposing organic material; a man-made source of methane is farming. Carbon dioxide can come from combustion, as in a car engine. Atmospheric water vapor can come from evaporating seas and lakes, but also as a byproduct of combustion. The Earth absorbs radiation of all wavelengths from the Sun; some of this radiation causes the Earth to warm up. This heat is radiated away from the Earth as infrared. The greenhouse gases absorb this energy causing the atmosphere to warm up. This is the same way a greenhouse works. The glass lets the radiation through into the greenhouse, but it won’t let the heat leave.
Although the link between the rising levels of greenhouse gases and increase in global temperatures is well agreed in the scientific community, the cause of the increase of greenhouse gases is not so well agreed. There are some scientists that believe that this change in the composition of the atmosphere is natural. They believe that the composition of the atmosphere naturally varies in cycles with times when the levels of greenhouses gases is high and other times when it is low. The vast majority of the scientific population however, believe that the increase in global temperatures is due to human activity.
An increase in global temperatures will lead to climate change. This is a change in the average weather experience in an area over a few decades. This could lead to more droughts in the summer and storms with extreme snow in the winter. Change in climates across the world could have devastating effects on landscape, animal life, and even human life. Potential effects would be different migration patterns for some animals or that crops don’t grow as well in areas of the world were they used to grow well. Some areas may experience more extreme weather as the global temperatures increase. The increase in temperature also will affect the amount of polar ice. As this ice melts and with the thermal expansion of the oceans, the sea level rises. This can be particularly dangerous for some low-lying island nations such as the Maldives, a country which is already susceptible to coastal flooding. Animal habitats have also been affected by the change in global temperatures. The Adélie penguins, which alongside Emperor penguins are the only true antarctic penguins, may become endangered as the amount of space they can inhabit in Antarctica is shrinking.
There are many ways people are working towards reducing our carbon footprint. Using less electrical energy in our homes can reduce the amount of fossil fuels burned in power stations. Small acts like switching off lights when they are not in use or turning your heating down by a few degrees can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released in the atmosphere. Many companies are working around the world to produce practical electric cars that would allow us to reduce our need of crude oil and tp produce less carbon dioxide.
There are many different renewable energy resources that are set to replace current fossil-fuel power plants. Engineers are working to make these resource more efficient and more affordable. To find out more about energy resources check out our energy resources teacher guide.
Essential Questions for The Greenhouse Effect and Global Warming
What is the greenhouse effect?
What is global warming?
What causes global warming?
How can we reduce global warming?
Additional Greenhouse Effect and Global Warming Lesson Plan Ideas
Have your students make a poster PSA to encourage their peers to make greener choices and reduce their carbon footprint.
Get your students to create a narrative storyboard of what the world could be like if global warming continues.
Students create a timeline of the major milestones in the understanding of and international campaigns against the greenhouse effect and global warming.