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Author

MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative

Grades

6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th

Subjects

Science, Chemistry, Physics, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Types

  • Podcast, 12 minutes, 7 seconds
  • Lesson Plan
  • Experiment
  • Worksheet

Regional Focus

Global, Polar Regions

Format

PDF

Sea Level Rise and Climate Change Demo

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Synopsis
  • This lesson plan provides a podcast, student worksheet, and two hands-on experiments that demonstrate how melting land ice and the thermal expansion of water contribute to sea level rise. 
Teaching Tips

Positives

  • The educator's guide is detailed and well-organized.
  • Students will enjoy participating in the experiments.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The downloadable "student pages" in the educator's guide include a number of questions, but the pages do not leave space for students to record their answers.
  • The experiments require some materials to be gathered ahead of time, such as ice cubes, containers, straws, and water bottles with lids.

Differentiation

  • Before beginning the experiments, have students hypothesize what they think will happen.  Advanced students can incorporate this into scientific method lessons and write a scientific paper describing their research.
  • After this lesson, social studies and geography classes could learn more about how and why certain coastal areas of the United States are experiencing faster sea level rise than other parts of the world.
  • History classes could research how and why port officials were measuring the sea level long before scientists began to record data using GPS.
  • Other resources on this topic include this PBS video on how Miami is dealing with sea level rise, this NASA video about how global warming is causing sea levels to rise, and this sea level rise viewer that provides sea level rise data for the coastal United States.
Scientist Notes
The resource explains how sea level is measured and the importance of collecting data on sea level rise to plan and respond to sea level rise when it occurs. This concept of disaster risk reduction is valid and this resource is recommended for teaching.
Standards
  • Science and Engineering
    • ESS2: Earth’s Systems
      • HS-ESS2-4 Use a model to describe how variations in the flow of energy into and out of Earth’s systems result in changes in climate.
      • HS-ESS2-5 Plan and conduct an investigation of the properties of water and its effects on Earth materials and surface processes.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-5 Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth’s systems.
  • English Language Arts
    • Reading (K-12)
      • R.6-8.5 Provide an accurate summary of various texts; determine the central idea(s) or theme(s) and analyze its development throughout each text.
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