Analyze the climate change data

This exercise is a part of Educator Guide: 2016 Shattered Earth’s Heat Record / View Guide

Class time: 40-120 minutes (or longer depending on your approach)

Purpose: Because there is so much scientific research seeking to understand the past, present and future of climate change, students or groups of students can research some of those aspects in much more detail themselves. They can learn how to analyze and summarize key data and then report their findings as in-class presentations (or written papers, if class time is limited). If time permits, after groups are finished presenting, have students work on a culminating activity that encourages them to summarize the information that they have learned to form a powerful message. Creating a public service announcement, for example, could be an alternative assessment for the project. The University of Kansas Community Tool Box shares information about preparing public service announcements.

Notes to the teacher:

You can adapt this activity based on the number and the level of the students, as well as the amount of available class time. Use the initial list of resources for your students given below and the student guides for specific questions and resources relating to each group’s topic. Also, consider discussing best slide-making and presentation practices with your students before they begin.

Presentation and slide tips:

Dartmouth’s Biomedical Library gives PowerPoint: Guides, Tips and Help

Rubric resources:

Ohio University’s Rubric for PowerPoint and Oral Presentation

University of Wisconsin-Madison suggests Sample Scoring Rubrics for Presentations

Make your own rubric with iRubric from Rcampus


  1. Assign different groups of students to research and report their findings on different aspects of
    climate change. Possible group topics include:

                        Group 1: Causes of climate change

                        Group 2: Current state of the climate

                        Group 3: Potential future climate change scenarios

                        Group 4: Potential methods of limiting or reversing climate change

                        Group 5: Climate change policies and winning over skeptics

  1. Discuss effective slide-making and presentation techniques.

  2. Provide student groups with recommended resources, and allow them to conduct research during class or as homework.

  3. Have the student groups prepare and present slides (about 10–15 slides per group is recommended) summarizing their findings for the class.

Other Student Resources:

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration gives a Global Analysis by year:

National Center for Science Education presents educational resources about climate change:

NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies provides global surface temperature graphs and maps:

Environmental Protection Agency presents educational resources about climate change:

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change offers numerous online reports:

RealClimate presents educational resources about climate change:

Woods Hole Research Center offers a Global Carbon Cycle Primer:

Woods Hole Research Center offers Understanding Climate Change: A Primer:

NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory presents climate change data:

NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory presents data on specific climate impacts:

NASA Earth Observatory gives a variety of global maps:

American Association for the Advancement of Science describes the consensus of 31 scientific societies about climate change:

Union of Concerned Scientists presents the scientific consensus on global warming:

 Grist proposes responses to the most common skeptical arguments on global warming: