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Thirteen Ed Online
Lesson Plans
Global Warming Statistics
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

Procedures for Teachers is divided into four sections:
Prep -- Preparing for the Lesson.
Steps -- Conducting the Lesson.
Extensions -- Additional Activities.
Tips -- Managing Resources and Student Activities.


Students should have knowledge of basic math applications, including addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Students should know the definitions of mean, median, and mode, and how to calculate these measures of central tendency.
Mean is the average of a set of numbers.
Median is the middle number when the list is in order from low to high, or the average of the two middle numbers if the quantity of numbers in the list is even.
Mode is the number that appears most often in the data set.
Students should be able to make tables and line graphs of data using graph paper, or if available, spreadsheet software like Microsoft Excel.

  • notebook paper
  • pens
  • pencils
  • markers
  • graph paper
  • posterboard
  • calculator
  • rulers
Computer Resources:
You will need at least one computer with Internet access to complete this lesson. While many configurations will work, we recommend:

  • Modem: 28.8 Kbps or faster.
  • Browser: Netscape Navigator 4.5 or above or Internet Explorer 4.5 or above.
  • Macintosh computer: System 7.0 or above and at least 16 MBs of RAM.
  • IBM-compatible computer: 386 or higher processor with at least 16 MBs of RAM, running Windows 3.1. Or, a 486/66 or Pentium with at least 16 MBs of RAM, running Windows 95.

  • Any spreadsheet software (i.e. Microsoft Excel) (*optional: may opt to use only graph paper and a calculator)
  • Any Word Processing Program (i.e., Microsoft Word, Corel WordPerfect, Apple Works, etc.)
  • Students that wish to add a multimedia presentation to their final project can use Microsoft PowerPoint or Hyper Studio. For more information on how to use these programs, see wNetSchool's HyperStudio or PowerPoint Tutorials.

For more information, visit What You Need to Get Connected in wNetSchool's Internet Primer.

Bookmark the following sites on your classroom computer(s) or in the computer lab:

  • National Weather Service Homepage

    Direct access to U.S. official weather forecast products and observations.

  • World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

    The World Meteorological Organization coordinates global scientific activity to allow increasingly prompt and accurate weather information and other services for public, private and commercial use, including international airline and shipping industries. WMO's activities contribute to the safety of life and property, the socio-economic development of nations and the protection of the environment. Within the United Nations, the Geneva-based 185-Member Organization provides the authoritative scientific voice on the state and behavior of the Earth's atmosphere and climate.

  • U.S. Historical Climatology Network (U.S. HCN)

    This page contains an interactive map and menu that allows you to select the state, station, and type of data you wish to see.

  • National Climatic Data Center (NCDC)

    NCDC is the world's largest active archive of weather data. NCDC produces numerous climate publications and responds to data requests from all over the world.

  • Live Access to Climate Data

    The Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data Set has been compiled from ship reports over the global ocean. The compilation of COADS is a joint effort between NOAA's Climate Diagnostics Center (CDC), the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), and NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC).

  • NCDC: Locate Weather Observation Station Record

    A search engine for weather data from specific locations.

  • U.S. GLOBEC (Global Ocean Ecosystems Dynamics)

    A research program organized by oceanographers and fishery scientists to address the question of how global climate change may affect the abundance and production of animals in the sea.

  • EPA Global Warming Site

    A definition and history of the green house effect, recent news, and information about what is and can be done.

  • Earth in the Balance

    This site allows students to learn about climate change, energy, air pollution and life on earth. It is a fun way to learn and lets kids work on crossword puzzles, memory games and even has jokes.

  • NOVA Online: Warnings from the Ice

    Explore how Antarctica's ice has preserved the past - from Chernobyl to the Little Ice Age - going back hundreds of thousands of years, and then see how the world's coastlines would recede if some or all of this ice were to melt. This excellent site for kids also includes a guide and resources for educators.


    Time Allotment:
    This lesson requires approximately five class periods. The extension lessons for other subjects will vary in length of time required for completion.


    Review the concepts of mean, median and mode.
    Mean is the average of a set of numbers. Discuss how these measures of central tendency can be used to analyze a set of data.
    Median is the middle number when the list is in order from low to high, or the average of the two middle numbers if the quantity of numbers in the list is even.
    Mode is the number that appears the most in the data set.
    Discuss the greenhouse effect and global warming. How can analyzing current and historic global temperatures help both sides of the greenhouse effect argument?


    Organize the class into groups, preferably of three students each. Students in each group should equally contribute to the tasks that follow.

    Preview a few of the bookmarked sites with the students (on a presentation monitor, if available), and explain how the sites can be used to find temperature information.


    Tell groups to select a part of the world, country, city, state, or town for which they want to investigate temperature change. Note that if they choose a place in a foreign country, they may use different research Web sites than those who choose a place in the United States.


    Students should research and collect data on their location's weather changes for a period of at least 10 years (start with the present and go back in time). Freedom is given to students to decide if they want to use monthly temperatures, yearly averages, daily maximum and minimum temperatures, etc. Once a time frame is selected, use the same one consistently throughout, so that comparisons are accurate. (For example, it would not be accurate or statistically meaningful to compare July 1999's monthly average temperature to 1997's yearly average temperature. Compare July '99 to July '97, or compare '99 yearly average to '97 yearly average. Tell students to be consistent in how they compare data.)


    Hand out the Steps page, located in Organizers for Students and go through each of the steps with your students. Record data in a table (either using spreadsheet software, remembering to save, or making a neat chart using a ruler and paper).

    Find the mean, median, and mode of the data, and record these numbers in the table as well. If using a spreadsheet and formulas are programmed, these numbers will appear in the table automatically.

    Analyze the data so far. Is there a pattern? Is there a noticeable increase in temperature for your location over the time selected? If there are any drastic changes from one year to another, research to see if there is another reason for this change (like a volcanic eruption).

    Graph the data using graph paper and a ruler. Make a line graph with temperature vs. time, plotting points for each piece of data, and then connecting the points with straight lines. Make three different sets of lines on the same grid for mean, median, and mode of temperatures. Color code these sets and make a key. Is there a noticeable trend in the graph? (Students may instead want to use the graphing tools in the spreadsheet software.)

    Look at the graph and extrapolate what the mean, median, and mode temperatures will be for your location 5 years from now, 10 years from now, and 20 years from now. How about in the year 2100?

    Are you worried about global warming after making your predictions? Why or why not?


    Have each group create a PowerPoint presentation to show their findings to the class, or use poster board to create a larger version of the graph.


    Presentations of findings can be shared as a group to the class.


    Conduct a class discussion after presentations are complete about general findings, observations, and any surprises from the research. Discuss how data and graphs can be skewed to make an argument supporting or denying the existence of global warming. Show this to the class using one set of data, graphed using different scales. "Lying" with statistics is a topic that can be further investigated for another lesson, exploring further implications on research, politics, and society as a whole.


    English: Students may write a poem, essay, or short story related to global warming.

    Art: Students may draw or paint a picture depicting what they think the world will look like in 100 or 1000 years, if the greenhouse effect is not curtailed.

    Social Studies: Students may write to their local, state, and/or federal representatives about their concerns for the environment regarding global warming.

    Foreign Language: Students may write in a foreign language to students in foreign countries about global warming, perhaps getting them involved with their local governments, or getting their opinions on the matter. For example, a Spanish class will write, using proper Spanish language, to Spain, Ecuador, Colombia, etc. Students may decide to write to many Spanish-speaking countries, splitting the task up among the class.

    Health, Biology, or Anatomy and Physiology: Students may research the effect extreme global warming could have on the human body, and how this may change human tolerance to temperature (Darwinism, or "survival of the fittest" can be discussed). Effects of other results of pollution (acid rain, air changes) on the human body (skin, lungs, etc.) may also be researched.

    Earth Science: Students may research the causes of global warming, the chemical makeup of the atmosphere, what is ozone, and other effects of pollution on ecology (acid rain, extreme weather patterns, animal extinctions, ocean levels rising due to polar ice caps melting).

    Keyboarding: Students may type formal letters that they wrote in history class. They will make any revisions necessary to create the letters in the proper format. They may attach the files to e-mail, using word processor software, and send them to their destination. If email is not available, students may send the letters via "snail mail," the US postal system

    Economics: Students may analyze the effect of global warming on the world's finances. Local and foreign economies, food prices, unemployment of fishermen due to fish depletion, money spent on research, prevention, and cleanup are some of the economic aspects that may be evaluated.

    Performing Arts: Students may write and act out a skit about global warming. They may also compose and perform a song (sing, rap, play an instrument).

    Speech: Students may write and present a persuasive speech confirming or denying the existence of global warming, making a convincing argument


    Ideally, this lesson would be most effective if every student had access to a computer with Internet access whether in a lab or classroom setting. However, if students have access to one computer per group, this will also work nicely. The students should be encouraged to have fun with the project, and investigate a place in which they are truly interested. Students should have computer access for each of the five class periods, or approximately 3.5 hours. The teacher should circulate around the room helping students with any software, Internet, or other questions as they arise.

    One Computer in the Classroom
    If you have access to one computer in your classroom, you can organize your class in several ways. Divide your class into two groups. Instruct one of the groups to do paper research while the second group is working on the computer. Bring in books, encyclopedias, etc., from the library for the group doing paper research. When the groups have finished working, have them switch places.

    If you have a big monitor or projection facilities, you can do Internet research together as a class. Make sure that every student in your class can see the screen, go to the relevant Web site(s), and review the information presented there. You can also select a search engine page and allow your students to suggest the search criteria. Again, bookmark and/or print the pages that you think are helpful for reference later.

    Several Computers in the Classroom
    Divide your class into small groups. Groups can do Internet research using pages you have bookmarked. Group members should take turns navigating the bookmarked site.

    You can also set the class up so that each computer is dedicated to certain sites. Students will then move around the classroom, getting different information from each station.

    Using a Computer Lab
    A computer center or lab space, with a computer-to-student ratio of one to three, is ideal for doing Web-based projects. Generally, when doing Web-based research, it is helpful to put students in groups of three. This way, students can help each other if problems or questions arise. It is often beneficial to bookmark sites for students ahead of time.

    Submit a Comment: We invite your comments and suggestions based on how you used the lesson in your classroom.

    Overview | Procedures for Teachers | Organizers for Students