GLOBE and Natural Inquirer Crosswalk—Climate Change for Elementary Classrooms

Contributed by Grace Laing, Olivia Kenny, and Logan NeGron, students at SUNY Fredonia

Hi everyone! Our names are Grace, Olivia, and Logan! We are future elementary school educators looking to gain the necessary skills and knowledge to support our students and be the best educators we can be. When we were tasked with looking at Natural Inquirer and GLOBE resources, we found much information on climate change and how it affects our planet. We wanted to choose a topic that we thought could relate to our lives; climate change continues to be one of the largest issues we face today. As we will be teaching for a long time to come, it is essential we understand this topic in depth and that we can educate our students correctly.

Climate Change Investi-gator (Pacific Northwest Research Station)

cover of the Investi-gator, a science journal for elementary school students, Winter 2011 Pacific Northwest Research Station Climate Change edition
The Investi-gator is a science journal for elementary school students from the U.S. Forest Service’s Natural Inquirer series. It contains important and accurate information for our young scientists. We decided to focus on how climate change may be affecting different animals, plants, and ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. We absolutely love the layout of this issue because it breaks down concepts that some students might not be familiar with. Climate change can be difficult for a child to grasp right away, but after reading the Investi-gator, we are confident that students will be engaged with the material.

We would use this issue to introduce climate change content and vocabulary to students. This specific Natural Inquirer issue connects climate change to four topics that kids will be interested in: how frog and toad breeding habits will change due to climate change; how plants might move while living in a changing climate; how climate change will affect wolverines; and how melting glaciers may actually provide food for animals. Each article has a glossary. It is important for students to understand these words to connect to the content. The Reflection Section is a great part of each article because prompting these questions will get our students to think critically. For example, “How does a tree move to a new location?” These reflection questions will also help with reading comprehension.

screenshot of FACTivity page (page 37) from Investi-gator journal. Lots of text, some of which reads "The questions students will answer in this FACTivity is: What is the geographic range of an animal?"We found the “FACTivity” sections of these four articles to be very beneficial. This section provides a hands-on activity that engages students with the content while ensuring they understand it. One activity that we plan on using in our future classrooms was the FACTivity on pages 37 and 38. With this activity, students will be asked to answer the question, “What is the geographic range of an animal?” Within groups or individually, students will choose an animal (the animal can be chosen from the field guide or other sources) and they will research them to answer various questions. After students have concluded their research, we will place each student's animal research in a book and place it within the classroom library.

Elementary GLOBE Climate Module

The GLOBE Program resources linked to climate are extremely engaging and would be a great addition to an elementary classroom working on the same topic. Looking specifically at the Elementary GLOBE climate module, the activities do a great job at allowing students to play an active role in their learning. One of the activities (“Weather Adds Up to Climate”) has students gain experience on reporting and gathering weather data over an extended period of time to describe the climate for a specific area. Students will create a weather bar using blocks and other hands-on materials. Unlike other graphing activities, this module provides students with an opportunity to visualize and tangibly manipulate their data.screenshot from Elementary GLOBE activity "Weather Adds Up to Climate" showing a sensory weather bar; text reads "The first row of bricks is attached with hot glue to the wood block with weather labels attached. Students add bricks to the categories based on their weather observations each day."

Another GLOBE activity (“Seashores on the Move”) is for students to notice and understand how sea levels rising can affect coastal communities and environments.

The last GLOBE activity we looked at was “We’re All Part of the Solution.” This activity shines light on the dangers of greenhouse gases and allows students to see their carbon footprint. Students generate ideas on how society can reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions to limit and hopefully reduce climate change. These activities were very inspiring; we plan on using all three within our classrooms as well as continuing to utilize other GLOBE resources.screenshot from Elementary GLOBE activity "We're All Part of the Solution" with six illustrations showing how greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere, and how more greenhouse gases are causing more heat to be trapped

GLOBE and Natural Inquirer Connections

After diving deeper into Natural Inquirer and GLOBE, we found many useful and insightful resources in the forms of readings, hands-on activities, and projects. Natural Inquirer and GLOBE both do an effective job at providing students and educators with the necessary tools and resources to understand science topics, in this case, climate change. Not only do both these resources have activities and hands-on experiences that allow students to take an active role with their education, but they also provide articles and opportunities for students to see how climate change affects the daily lives of people and how to repair damages that have already been made.

As future educators, we found these resources to be extremely informative. With all these resources at our fingertips, we feel confident in educating students on the topic of climate change.

GLOBE and NGSS Connections: Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • ESS2.C The Roles of Water in Earth’s Surface Processes

  • ESS2.D Weather and Climate

  • ESS3.C Human Impacts on the Earth System

Image captions (top to bottom):

  1. Cover of the Investi-gator, a science journal for elementary school students, Winter  2011 Pacific Northwest Research Station Climate Change edition
  2. Screenshot of FACTivity page (page 37) from Investi-gator journal. 
  3. Screenshot from Elementary GLOBE activity "Weather Adds Up to Climate" showing a sensory weather bar.
  4. Screenshot from Elementary GLOBE activity "We're All Part of the Solution." 

Acknowledgement: This material is based upon work supported by USDA Forest Service Eastern Region (Agreement no. 20-PA-11090100-026). Any opinion, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the USDA Forest Service.

This blog post is part of the GLOBE and the Natural Inquirer Crosswalk Project. Other blog posts are available on the U.S. GLOBE Teacher Resources page

Natural Inquirer issues can be downloaded and classroom sets of many issues can be ordered from their website. Find the complete list of issues available and instructions for ordering on the Natural Inquirer website

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