In this lesson, students analyze NASA maps generated by satellite data to compare environmental conditions around the United States at different times throughout the year.
Students follow camper Awenasa around the US to make these comparisons and learn how conditions such as cloud cover, temperature, precipitation, and vegetation change based on seasons and location.
This resource provides large amounts of data and maps, so teachers may choose which and how many variables to address.
The lesson provides an excellent way to scaffold students' interpretation of the environmental condition maps through discussions and observations.
Students should be familiar with basic weather and environmental characteristics such as air temperature, cloud cover, vegetation, and precipitation.
Students should be able to read a map of the United States and understand how data can be represented by color scales on a map.
The resource includes image cards, answer keys, Google Slides for educators, and a downloadable PDF of the lesson plan.
Teachers should consider spending some time interpreting sample map data as a whole group to ensure that students understand how to read and analyze the data for the activity.
It is recommended to first have students analyze data in the location nearest to where they live, as they already have an understanding of local weather patterns.
The lesson is customizable based on how many conditions and locations are analyzed. For a shorter lesson, teachers can select one environmental condition or location and for a longer lesson, students can analyze multiple conditions or compare multiple locations.
Teachers can structure this as a jigsaw activity by assigning groups of students to different conditions or locations to analyze. Then, each group can present its findings to the class and the class can discuss comparisons.
Normalized Difference Vegetation Index is suitable to show variation in specie-richness (Vegetation cover). Analysing cloud cover, surface temperature and vegetation cover is recommended to understand earth's energy budget. This resource is suitable for teaching.
Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
ESS2: Earth's Systems
MS-ESS2-2 Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth's surface at varying time and spatial scales.
4-ESS2-2 Analyze and interpret data from maps to describe patterns of Earth’s features.
5-ESS2-1 Develop a model using an example to describe ways the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact.