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National Center for Science Education


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Social Studies, Earth and Space Sciences, Geography

Resource Types

  • Lesson Plans
  • Videos, 2 minutes, 13 seconds
  • Videos, 2 minutes, 18 seconds, CC, Subtitles
  • Activity - Classroom
  • Videos, 2 minutes, 9 seconds
  • Articles and Websites
  • Experiments

Regional Focus

Global, North America, United States


Jamboard, Google Slides, PDF, YouTube Video

Climate Change in Your Own Backyard

Ask a Question

  • In this lesson plan, students draw connections between extreme weather events and climate change on a global and regional scale, starting off with a fun "loaded dice" activity. 
  • Students learn about the wildfires in Australia, view and analyze maps and terms related to extreme weather events, explore a region-specific type of extreme weather, and test out engineering designs to develop a sustainable city that can avoid the urban heat-island effect. 
  • Students can select from five different weather-related events to investigate, based on their region or area of interest: wildfires, tornadoes, precipitation events, hurricanes, and droughts. 
Teaching Tips


  • This lesson addresses two common misconceptions about the relationship between climate change and extreme weather events and lets students figure them out through classroom activities.
  • The lesson can be tailored to the weather conditions in specific regions, making it more relevant and engaging for students.
  • Students may enjoy the "Cupcake Watch vs. Cupcake Warning" analogy to understand weather terminology associated with extreme events.

Additional Prerequisites

  • This lesson plan is designed to take 6 class periods, if all activities are completed.
  • This is lesson 4 in NCSE's Climate Change Lesson Set Series and it is recommended that students complete prior lessons first or be introduced to the FLICC method for recognizing science denial and part E of Lesson 1 before starting this lesson (links are included in the lesson plan).
  • The experiment and opening activity require some unusual materials that may not be readily available including loaded dice, flex seal liquid, kinetic sand, and an infrared thermometer.
  • All materials for this lesson, including alternatives and extensions can be found in this google drive folder.


  • The "prerequisite student knowledge" activity is to write an extreme weather autobiography or reflection paper. Science teachers could partner with an ELA teacher for this to create an interdisciplinary connection.
  • Geography classes could use Part A as a stand-alone activity to engage students in creating and interpreting maps and math classes could expand on the data collection and analysis from the activities.
  • Instead of choosing one activity of regional significance, teachers could allow students to choose the type of extreme weather they are most interested in learning more about. Alternatively, teachers could assign groups of students to each type of weather event and have groups share out what they learn.
  • Other resources that connect extreme weather events and climate change include this online course from NEEF and this Columbia Climate School article.
Scientist Notes
The resource underpins the impact of extreme weather on climate. This is valid and recommended for teaching. On page 10 of the resource, educators should note the misspelling on the vacation chart "Mean dailey" is used instead of mean daily. Other content with activities is valid.
  • Mathematics
    • Data Reasoning and Probability (9-12)
      • HS.DR.D.13 Use multivariate thinking to articulate how variables impact one another and measure the strength of association using correlation coefficients for regression curves.
  • Science
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • HS.ESS2.2 Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth’s surface can create feedbacks that cause changes to other Earth 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.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS.ESS3.1 Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity.
      • HS.ESS3.4 Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
      • 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.
      • HS.ESS3.6 Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity (i.e., climate change).
  • Social Sciences
    • Geography (K-12)
      • HS.38 Use technologies to create maps to display and explain the spatial patterns of cultural and environmental characteristics at multiple scales.
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