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Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences - Education and Outreach, Jonathan Griffith


6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Mathematics

Resource Types

  • Lesson Plan, 2 hours
  • Activity - Classroom
  • Worksheet
  • Presentation Slides
  • Data
  • Video, CC, Subtitles
  • Article

Regional Focus

North America


Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, YouTube Video

Data Puzzle: The Tipping Point

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  • In this lesson, students analyze data from the work of three ecologists researching how moss campion is affected by climate change and if there is a point that is too warm for the species to thrive.
  • Students interpret graphs, evaluate how changes to one species can impact biodiversity, make data models, and discuss how people can protect endangered species.
Teaching Tips


  • This lesson intersperses videos throughout the article, which gives students a break from reading.
  • Students will enjoy seeing scientists work out in the field.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The two videos listed under Additional Resources in the Teacher Guide are unavailable.
  • Students should know how to read and analyze a bar graph.
  • Some students may need the terms biome, climate change, vital, and others, including the vocabulary listed in the Teacher Guide, defined before reading the article.


  • After completing this data puzzle, students can explore the effect of warming temperatures on invasive species.
  • Students can collect data to answer an ecological question about their local environment and create representations of the data.
  • Language arts students can write research or persuasive papers about measures people can take to protect biodiversity.
  • Geography students can research further how the tundra is different from other climate zones and how climate zones are each affected by climate change.
Scientist Notes

This resource is from the CLEAN collection. “The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness.”

  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • 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.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-3 Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.
      • HS-ESS3-2 Evaluate competing design solutions for developing, managing, and utilizing energy and mineral resources based on cost-benefit ratios.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • MS-LS2-4 Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.
      • MS-LS2-5 Evaluate competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services.
      • HS-LS2-6 Evaluate the claims, evidence, and reasoning that the complex interactions in ecosystems maintain relatively consistent numbers and types of organisms in stable conditions, but changing conditions may result in a new ecosystem.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Informational Text (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language of a court opinion differs from that of a newspaper).
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.2 Determine two or more central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to provide a complex analysis; provide an objective summary of the text.
  • Common Core Math Standards (CCSS.MATH)
    • Ratios & Proportional Relationships (6-7)
      • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.7.RP.A.2 Recognize and represent proportional relationships between quantities.
    • Statistics & Probability (6-8)
      • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.SP.B.5 Summarize numerical data sets in relation to their context.
  • Related Resources


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