Global Change Units developed by
2010 Global Change Summer Teacher Institute Participants
1. Climate Change and the Greenhouse Effect, by Healther Colombo
6th Grade, Science
This unit addresses how the greenhouse gasses contribute to changing climate. Each year my students arrive
knowing that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and that it causes temperatures to rise. Through this lesson
the students will come away with a deeper understanding of the greenhouse gasses and how they affect the
2. Effects of Human Impact on Water Quality: Above and Below Ground, by Christine Kelly
7th Grade, Science
A. Students will discover and describe the links between land use and the water quality of streams, rivers,
and lakes when they observe how pollutants from various human land uses can be carried by runoff
through watershed, eventually reaching one of the Great Lakes. Students will identify and list examples
of best management practices (BMPs) through pollution prevention and/or mitigation of impacts.
B. Using their knowledge of the water cycle, students will explore and explain how groundwater moves
and interacts with surface water in a watershed. Using Michigan groundwater data, students determine
how groundwater may be contaminated and whether the cleanup of such contamination is feasible.
The importance of groundwater to Michigan and how groundwater is used in Michigan will also be
C. Students will list and describe human impacts to our aquatic habitats as a result of nutrient loading and
pesticide use. They will draw a connection between external use of fertilizers and pesticides and acidic
compounds in our atmosphere and the resulting change in pH of the freshwater systems.
3. How applying nitrogen fertilizer can affect biodiversity: A 7th grate partial inquiry lesson on nitrogen
saturation, by Denise Payment, Tahquamenon Area Schools
7th Grade, Science
In most classrooms the nitrogen cycle is just a set of steps and processes that students learn in class as part of a
unit on cycles, probably related to plants or global warming. Nitrogen, an important component of greenhouse
gases in the atmosphere, is often overlooked. Carbon dioxide is widely referenced in the classroom, but little is
understood by students about nitrogen’s role in global change.
This unit is meant to show how the nitrogen cycle has an impact on global change. This will be done through
observations of plant growth in plots using a variety of nitrogen application concentrations. This allows
students to see the ramifications of nitrogen use in the environment and infer from the data how other systems
and biodiversity are affected by nitrogen application.
The first two days of this unit will be spent on the nitrogen cycle, leading into the experiment where students
will add nitrogen to plots of mixed weeds and grasses. They will make observations over time and record the
change in the size, number and type of plants that are growing. This unit could also be adapted to the classroom
The unit will add depth to the benchmarks covered in 7th grade Life and Earth science that address how
humans affect the environment. This material will also help students see that real world farming or agricultural
strategies are affecting the nitrogen cycle and subsequently global temperature change and organism diversity.
1. Algebra 1 Lessons for Global Change, by Amy Culver
9th Grade, Algebra
This unit is a compilation of several lessons meant to occur at different times of the year in Algebra. Though
they are not from one unit, they are valuable lessons to reinforce global change concepts outside of science
class. The first two lessons address scatter plots, data correlation, best fit lines, and linear regression from a unit
entitled Linear Functions & Inequalities that occurs during the first semester. The last three lessons
address surveys, data analysis, displaying data, and misleading data displays from a unit entitled Data
Analysis & Probability that occurs at the end of the year. Discussing global change issues through
mathematical concepts will help students make connections to real-world ideas and problems, and emphasize
the idea that these issues are important to our daily lives, as well ashelping them understand how important and
useful Algebra can be.
2. Global Change Lesson Plans, by Ian Gagnon
10th Grade, Physical Science, Life Science, Environmental Science
The driving forces behind what happens to global change are rooted in physical science. These are fundamental
disciplines, and should be addressed when looking at what we have in the environment today. This unit covers
physical processes that drive changes in the climates such as reactions of compounds that produce greenhouse
gases, pH measurements, energy conversion, conservation of mass, and energy.
3. Global Change Unit, by Brian Neil
11th and 12th Grade, Environmental Science
The initial focus of this unit of study is helping students evaluate short-term change within the context of long-
term trends using the context of climate history. Real data from various sources will be reviewed and discussed.
The teacher’s role will be restricted to guidance during data analysis with students being given latitude in
reaching their own conclusions. In addition students will be challenged to work with peers to produce a
workable solution to a community-based, environmental problem which has a climate connection.
4. Global Change Unit: It’s More Than Just Increasing Temperature, by Cindy Ruotsi
The following unit works well in a Biology classroom during a unit on Ecology. Throughout the unit, students
will learn about the carbon and nitrogen cycles as well as important global changes that are taking place.
Students will participate in class discussions, will watch videos and read articles, will write to an elected official
about a change they’d like to see in regards to the food industry or some other environmental issue, and finally,
will develop and carry out a project that helps them to make their school more eco-friendly.
5. Microclimate and Global Change Teaching Unit, by Jacob Walikainen
11th and 12th Grade, Interdisciplinary
Upon completion of this unit, students will be able to define and demonstrate an understanding of global
change. Students will recognize major factors affecting global change, participate in field studies of global
change, research climate change using the internet/technology to identify damage to parts of ecosystems from
global change and write a reflection/research paper on what global change means to them and the planet.