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National Science Teaching Association


8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Social Studies, Earth and Space Sciences, Civics

Resource Types

  • Lesson Plans
  • Activity - Classroom
  • Videos, 6 minutes, 38 seconds, CC, Subtitles
  • Charts, Graphs, and Tables
  • Scientific Papers or Reports
  • Articles and Websites
  • Interactive Media

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - Northeast, Maine, Coastal


Google Docs, PDF, YouTube Video

Why Is Ocean Water Warming Faster in Some Places Than Others?

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  • This lesson is about the Gulf of Maine's rising sea surface temperature, the currents in this area and how they move, and Maine's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Students will use their critical thinking and problem solving skills to evaluate data and information to answer this question using scientific papers, reports, and interactive maps and graphs.
Teaching Tips


  • This lesson plan has group activities to encourage collaboration and cooperation.
  • This lesson plan includes a well-produced video from the National Science Teaching Association. 

Additional Prerequisites

  • An advertisement might play before the YouTube video.
  • For the "Scientific Assessment of Climate Change and Its Effects in Maine" document, items under the table of contents are clickable and can help you navigate the document.


  • This lesson plan could enhance a classroom discussion on Maine's effectiveness at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • This lesson plan could supplement a project where students compare the climate approaches of different states in the country.
  • This lesson plan could augment a research activity about how rising ocean temperatures are dangerous for human populations.
  • This lesson plan could support a brainstorming activity where students consider strategies for lessening their own carbon footprint.
  • Science classes can use any of the materials to support lessons about heat transfer, ocean currents, local vs. global climate patterns, or the effects of topography on regional or local weather and climate.
Scientist Notes
This is a comprehensive look at why the Gulf of Maine's temperature is increasing rapidly. The links provided in this resource are extremely thorough and cited. In particular, the "Scientific Assessment of Climate Change and its Effects on Maine" is an excellent additional resource provided here. This resource has passed our scientific review process and is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • MS-ESS2-4 Develop a model to describe the cycling of water through Earth's systems driven by energy from the sun and the force of gravity.
      • 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.
      • 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 English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Informational Text (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.2 Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., quantitative data, video, multimedia) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.8.2 Analyze the purpose of information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and evaluate the motives (e.g., social, commercial, political) behind its presentation.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Civics
      • D2.Civ.5.9-12 Evaluate citizens' and institutions' effectiveness in addressing social and political problems at the local, state, tribal, national, and/or international level.
  • Common Core Math Standards (CCSS.MATH)
    • Functions: Interpreting Functions (9-12)
      • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.HSF.IF.B.6 Calculate and interpret the average rate of change of a function (presented symbolically or as a table) over a specified interval. Estimate the rate of change from a graph.
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