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Photo by Pierre Jarry via Unsplash

Database Provider


PBS Wisconsin Education


3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Social Studies, History, English Language Arts, Health

Resource Types

  • Video, 4 minutes, 11 seconds, CC
  • Article

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - Midwest, Polar Regions, Wisconsin, Northwoods (CESA 9, 10, 11, 12)


Ask a Question

  • This resource is all about North America's largest cross-country ski race, the Birkebeiner, which goes across 50 kilometers of Wisconsin towns and forests, and is in jeopardy because of climate change.
  • Students will learn about the race, its history, and the challenges the Birkebeiner is facing as temperatures rise and snowfall decreases. 
Teaching Tips


  • This resource gives a great overview of an authentic experience in Wisconsin, while tying into concepts of climate change.
  • The video is engaging for students at many levels and the article is a great way to continue learning for more advanced students.

Additional Prerequisites

  • In order for this resource to make sense, ensure that students know what cross-country skiing is and what conditions are needed for successful cross-country skiing.


  • Cross-curricular connections can be made in health classes that are considering how climate change will affect human health, physical fitness opportunities, and access to outdoor activities. 
  • Before viewing, have students brainstorm what conditions might negatively impact a winter sport like cross-country skiing. This may turn into a worthwhile conversation about how our changing climate may also change the ways in which we spend time outdoors.
  • After viewing, have students compile a list of other outdoor activities that may be negatively impacted by climate change.
  • As an extension, have students create posters for the Birkebeiner that include information from the video and article. Their posters should include some of the race's history, fun facts, and concerns for the future of the Birkebeiner.
  • Use the teaching tips included on the right side to have students expand on the topic with reflection and data analysis activities.
Scientist Notes
This resource from PBS Wisconsin introduces the Birkebeiner, America’s biggest cross-country ski race, and the effects of a warming climate on the continued success of the event. A video features footage of the event and narration by Birkebeiner founder, John Kotar. Throughout the video, the thrill of the event is placed against the facts of warmer winters, less snowfall, and earlier springs. The article accompanying the video goes into greater detail about how climate change is putting the event at risk. Teaching tips on the side of the page task students with discussing adaptation strategies and using climate data to make predictions about the future of the Birkebeiner. This resource gives students an opportunity to assess how a changing climate threatens cultural and sporting events, potentially causing great economic damage to communities. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-4 Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth's systems.
      • MS-ESS3-5 Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: History
      • D2.His.1.6-8 Analyze connections among events and developments in broader historical contexts.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Informational Text (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6.7 Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
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