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Understanding Global Change Project


6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th


Science, Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Types

  • Interactive Media
  • Presentation Slides

Regional Focus




Understanding Global Change - Construct a Model

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  • This online interactive activity allows students to create a diagram showing how the Earth's systems and their components are interconnected.
  • This resource includes a brief slideshow and a custom-made infographic that students can use for presentations or assignments.
Teaching Tips


  • This is a great way to introduce students to systems thinking while allowing them to apply their knowledge about the Earth's systems.
  • The resource allows plenty of space for students to be creative, selecting between various factors to demonstrate the links between the Earth's systems and changes.

Additional Prerequisites

  • A list of key terms can be accessed by downloading the framework outline from the slideshow.
  • The framework is small and, therefore, difficult to read but can be zoomed into by clicking the + symbol on the top right.
  • Students can learn more about different terms by clicking on them on the Framework page.
  • Students can save their work to their computer or Google account.
  • This resource requires access to the Internet and a device.


  • Considering the number of terms in the handout, students can read it in pairs, groups, or as a class. Some students may find it helpful to have access to the handout before class.
  • For those without access to the internet, the framework can be projected, the handout printed, and students can draw their own systems on paper.
  • Have students consider why it is important for humans to prevent certain changes to Earth's systems.
  • As a follow-up activity, have students research which of Earth's systems are being strained or accelerated today due to changes in other systems (i.e., feedback loops).
  • To extend the lesson, have students watch this video on the many ways humans impact Earth's systems.
Scientist Notes
The resource lets students understand the processes, components, and causal relationships in the Earth's systems. The activity in this resource will stretch their ability to construct a model to represent these changes, interactions, and dynamics. The resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • 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.
      • HS-ESS2-5 Plan and conduct an investigation of the properties of water and its effects on Earth materials and surface processes.
      • HS-ESS2-6 Develop a quantitative model to describe the cycling of carbon among the hydrosphere, atmosphere, geosphere, and biosphere.
    • 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.
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