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


Science, Earth and Space Sciences, Mathematics

Resource Types

  • Activity - Classroom, 15 minutes
  • Game
  • Worksheet

Regional Focus



Google Docs, Google Sheets, PDF

Global Air Temperature Graph: Student Activity

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  • In this math game, students analyze a graph showing air temperature changes over time and identify trends. 
  • Students use "data literacy cubes" and differentiated question sets to guide their exploration. 
  • Students take turns rolling the cube and answering the corresponding question from the Graph Cube Question Sheet. This is repeated until all questions are answered. 
Teaching Tips


  • This activity is great to use as a warm-up task, hook, or bell ringer.
  • The cube and question sets could be used to analyze other graphs as well.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should be familiar with the concept of global surface temperature.
  • The teacher needs time to prepare the cubes. Alternatively, teachers can use dice or virtual dice instead of the cube.
  • Teachers can request access to the answer keys via email.


  • This can be used as an individual or group activity.
  • The question sheets are leveled to provide easy differentiation for teachers. The sheets are labeled with a letter: A for beginner, B for intermediate, C for advanced, and D for English Language Learners.
  • This activity can be done virtually by using a virtual dice application instead of the cube and using the provided google forms instead of the question sheets.
  • Teachers could expand on this activity by having students interpret other graphs using the same process. Possible graphs teachers could use include Trends in Atmospheric Carbon DioxideCoal ProductionCoal Consumption, and Total Greenhouse Gas Emissions.
Scientist Notes
The resource simplifies the relative temperature change using annual averages, simulation will guide students to explore and understand these changes and predict future global surface temperature change. Educators should note that the interval is 1880-2020 and not 1952-1980. This resource is valid, suitable, and recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • MS-ESS2-6 Develop and use a model to describe how unequal heating and rotation of the Earth cause patterns of atmospheric and oceanic circulation that determine regional climates.
      • HS-ESS2-4 Use a model to describe how variations in the flow of energy into and out of Earth’s systems result in changes in climate.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-5 Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.
  • Common Core Math Standards (CCSS.MATH)
    • Functions: Interpreting Functions (9-12)
      • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.HSF.IF.B.4 For a function that models a relationship between two quantities, interpret key features of graphs and tables in terms of the quantities, and sketch graphs showing key features given a verbal description of the relationship. Key features include: intercepts; intervals where the function is increasing, decreasing, positive, or negative; relative maximums and minimums; symmetries; end behavior; and periodicity.
    • Statistics & Probability (6-8)
      • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.SP.B.5 Summarize numerical data sets in relation to their context.
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