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Climate Change, Graphing


6th, 7th, 8th


Science, Earth and Space Sciences, Math


60 minutes

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - Northeast, New Jersey


Google Docs, Google Slides


This lesson plan is licensed under Creative Commons.

Creative Commons License

Rising Temperatures Over Time

Created By Teacher:
Last Updated:
Dec 1, 2022

In this lesson, students choose temperature data to graph in order to explore the relationship between maximum and minimum New Jersey temperatures over time.


Step 1 - Inquire: Students interact with two data tables showing maximum and minimum average temperatures in New Jersey.


Step 2 - Investigate: Students choose data to graph both max and min temperatures over time and discuss their findings.


Step 3 - Inspire: Students watch a video showing the current effects of temperature in New Jersey and explore the connection between the video’s information and their graph.


  • This lesson can be used in any math class.

  • Students are given voice and choice in this lesson.

  • Students learn to apply real-world data from a table into a comparable graph.

  • Students explore the connection between data, graphs, and current effects.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should have a basic understanding of average and how it is calculated.

  • Students should have a basic understanding of reading data tables.

  • Students should have a basic understanding of graphing and coordinate points expressed as (x, y).

  • Students should have a basic understanding of the relationship between the x- and y-axes.


  • Students’ communication and vocabulary can be simple or content-specific with math terminology.

  • Students can use their graph to make an infographic about temperature and climate change. Students can then present their infographic in class, in a school club, or in the community to raise awareness.

  • Students can find the line of best fit, find the equation of that line in y = mx + b form, and explain what that line shows about the relationship between average temperatures and time.

  • Students can use the same data and make different graphs (e.g., bar graph, pie chart, etc.). Students can explain how each graph emphasizes different parts of the same data and explain which graph is best in conveying a specific conclusion.

This lesson encourages students to create a visual representation of an available climate dataset. A class discussion walks students through the data and how to navigate through the available information. Students are provided instructions on how to create a graph and are allowed to choose which data they will visually represent. The Student Document introduces and invites students to conduct data analysis on their chosen dataset and encourages critical thinking skills. A short video and discussion questions help students relate current information back to their chosen datasets. This is an interactive lesson that incorporates data analysis with the current issue of climate change.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • Mathematics
    • The Number System (6-8)
      • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.NS.C.8 Solve real-world and mathematical problems by graphing points in all four quadrants of the coordinate plane. Include use of coordinates and absolute value to find distances between points with the same first coordinate or the same second coordinate.
    • Statistics & Probability (6-8)
      • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.7.SP.B.3 Informally assess the degree of visual overlap of two numerical data distributions with similar variabilities, measuring the difference between the centers by expressing it as a multiple of a measure of variability. For example, the mean height of players on the basketball team is 10 cm greater than the mean height of players on the soccer team, about twice the variability (mean absolute deviation) on either team; on a dot plot, the separation between the two distributions of heights is noticeable.
    • Functions (8)
      • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.8.F.A.5 Describe qualitatively the functional relationship between two quantities by analyzing a graph (e.g., where the function is increasing or decreasing, linear or nonlinear). Sketch a graph that exhibits the qualitative features of a function that has been described verbally.
  • Science
    • 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.

  • Students view the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) Monthly Data Tables on average maximum and minimum temperatures for New Jersey. 

  • Students start with the table of maximum average temperatures.

  • Teacher leads a class discussion on the following questions while students jot down answers:

    • What is the earliest date of recorded data?

    • How is the table organized?

    • Find the Legend. How many colors are there? What do they mean?

    • Look at the whole table. What do you notice about the location of the purple and red colors?

    • Share an observation you have about the data in this table.

  • Students click on the minimum temperature link at the top of the website and spend a few minutes looking at the data.

  • Students jot down answers to the following three questions:

    • What do you notice about the location of the purple and red colors?

    • What observations can you make about the average minimum temperatures?

    • What questions do you have after looking at both tables?

  • Teacher facilitates a discussion about the average minimum temperatures.

  • Students choose the specific data they would like to graph.

  • Students set up their graphs.

  • Students graph the maximum and minimum temperature data and connect the dots to make maximum and minimum temperature lines.

  • Students answer the following questions:

    • Find the year that has the biggest difference between your average maximum and minimum temperature. Calculate the difference.

    • Find the year that has the smallest difference between your average max and min temperature. Calculate the difference.

    • What do you notice about your graph? 

    • What stands out to you the most? Why?

    • Do you see any patterns? Explain.

    • Describe the relationship you see between the maximum and minimum temperatures over time.

  • Students discuss their graphs and their responses to the questions with a small group.

  • Each group shares takeaways from their discussion with the whole class.

  • Students watch #NJClimateWeek: Rising Temperatures, a video about rising temperatures in New Jersey.

  • Students answer the following questions as they watch the video:

    • How much has the average temperature risen in New Jersey since 1895?

    • By 2050, how much is the average temperature estimated to increase?

    • List three effects of rising temperatures in New Jersey.

    • List three ways New Jersey is preparing for these potential effects.

  • Teacher facilitates a discussion using the following questions:

    • How does your graph relate to the information in the video?

    • How can you use your graph to inform others in New Jersey about climate change?

  • Teacher facilitates a discussion using the following SEL and justice-focused questions:

    • Have you experienced high temperatures this year?

    • What does this mean for you and future generations?

    • How does this make you feel?

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