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Database Provider


TERC, Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College (SERC)


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Chemistry, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Types

  • Lesson Plans
  • Articles and Websites
  • Interactive Media
  • Activity - Classroom
  • Assessments
  • Videos
  • Worksheets
  • Projects

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - West


Microsoft Word, Microsoft Powerpoint, Downloadable MP4/M4V

Climate Detectives Unit Labs

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  • This unit consists of a series of six labs that are designed to mimic the steps scientists go through when participating in an expedition aboard a scientific core-drilling ship off the southern coast of Alaska. 
  • Students will learn how geologic history and sediment cores can tell scientists about past climate conditions, learn about the jobs of various scientists on board, and work in groups to create a final paper to summarize their group's findings. 
Teaching Tips


  • Students will enjoy watching the videos featuring scientists on board the JOIDES Resolution, a real research ship.
  • The "Lab Overviews" section identifies all of the materials needed for the activities and provides a quick scope and sequence of the unit.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The maps and data in this unit are somewhat dated, but the concepts, topics, and skills remain relevant.
  • Students will need access to the Internet for most labs.


  • The videos appear throughout the unit and help students connect the concepts in the unit with an actual scientific expedition. This could highlight the importance of storytelling in science classes and connect to language arts or performing arts classes.
  • Career exploration or life skills classes could use this unit as a way for students to learn about the many career options for people interested in scientific research.
  • Earth science classes could take a field trip to a local university research lab to see how scientists (and students) are working to collect samples and analyze data.
  • Other resources on this topic include this ClimateScience video on how scientists know that climate change is real, this video that shows how scientists use old coral to learn about climate history, and this NASA resource on changing ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland.
Scientist Notes
This resource will improve students' ability to select appropriate climate models to simulate and project future climate scenarios. Models are important to understand climate history and project future climate outlook. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • HS-ESS2-1 Develop a model to illustrate how Earth’s internal and surface processes operate at different spatial and temporal scales to form continental and ocean-floor features.
      • HS-ESS2-5 Plan and conduct an investigation of the properties of water and its effects on Earth materials and surface processes.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • 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 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.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to important distinctions the author makes and to any gaps or inconsistencies in the account.
  • Related Resources


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