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Reimagining plastics recycling

Students will evaluate experimental methods for recycling plastics, gather data about the types of plastics they use at home, research plastics recycling in their community and write a letter to local officials that advocates for improving plastics recycling.
people riding in a backhoe amid flooding in China

Earth Cannot Avoid a Warmer Future

In this guide, students will learn about a United Nations assessment that concludes human-caused climate change is behind extreme weather events. Then, students will discuss and compare climate scenarios and visualize some of the data.

Visualizing climate change scenarios

Students will learn about climate scenarios, analyze a chart of climate change impacts under four scenarios and create a data visualization for one climate change impact.

Looking ahead to a hotter future

Students will answer questions about the online Science News article “The new UN climate change report shows there’s no time for denial or delay,” which describes a massive scientific assessment that concludes human-caused climate change is behind extreme weather events. A version of the story, “Earth cannot avoid a warmer future,” appears in the September 11, 2021 issue of Science News.
satellite image of Santorini

Sea Level Dips Spur Volcanic Eruptions

In this guide, students will learn about how scientists used a computer simulation to show that sea level might influence volcanic eruptions. Then, students will discuss computer simulations and brainstorm a simulation that they could use to investigate a real-world issue.

The significance of simulations

Students will discuss the purpose, benefits and challenges of using computer simulations in scientific research. Then, students will brainstorm a real-world issue that could be investigated with a computer simulation and think about how the simulation would work.

Ready to rumble

Students will answer questions about the online Science News “Greece’s Santorini volcano erupts more often when sea level drops,” which describes how a computer simulation revealed a hidden relationship between sea level and a volcano’s explosive history. A version of the story, “Sea level dips spur volcanic eruptions,” appears in the August 28, 2021 issue of Science News.

Get to know your local geology

Students will learn about plate tectonics, research the geologic and tectonic history of their region or state and analyze geologic maps to understand how plate tectonics shaped the landscape.

Planning ahead to prevent future disasters

Students will take on the role of a planning board for a region identified as having an increased risk for natural hazards — wildfires, floods, droughts, heatwaves or hurricanes — due to climate change. After proposing regulations and other strategies to reduce the natural hazard’s impact, the students will discuss the merits of the proposed solutions before voting on a disaster plan and budget for their region.
sea ice

Earth’s Oceans Broke Heat Records in 2020

In this guide, students will learn about how the amount of heat energy that Earth’s upper oceans have absorbed has increased over time. Then, students will discuss strategies for interpreting, understanding and communicating data.

In hot water

Students will answer questions about the online Science News article “Earth’s oceans are storing record-breaking amounts of heat,” which explores how the upper oceans’ heat storage capacity has changed over time. A version of the story, “Earth’s oceans broke heat records in 2020,” appears in the February 13, 2021 issue of Science News.

Communicating data

Students will discuss how graphs and quantitative analogies are useful for interpreting and understanding data. Then, students will analyze and compare how effective each strategy is at communicating a scientific claim. As an extension, students may propose an alternative method of displaying or explaining given data.