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TERC, Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College (SERC)


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


Science, Physics, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Types

  • Lesson Plan
  • Video, 19 seconds
  • Video, 5 minutes
  • Interactive Media
  • Video, 2 minutes, 27 seconds, CC
  • Assessment
  • Video, 2 minutes, 45 seconds, CC
  • Video, 10 seconds
  • Activity - Classroom
  • Video, 1 minute, 8 seconds
  • Video, 1 minute, 5 seconds
  • Video, 13 seconds
  • Video, 1 minute, 17 seconds, CC
  • Data

Regional Focus

Global, North America, United States



Climatology Basics Lab

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  • This digital lab introduces students to weather and climate patterns as they learn about the physical factors that influence Earth's climate. 
  • Using graphics, NASA animations, and diagrams, students will learn about the three levels of climate drivers, as well as the differences between weather and climate. 
Teaching Tips


  • Animations, interactive media, and videos are provided to aid student comprehension.
  • Many optional extensions and additional resources are included for students and teachers.
  • Frequent check-in questions and short assessments are included.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should already know about the water cycle and understand concepts like solar radiation, uneven heating of the Earth's surface, and convection cells.
  • Students should be comfortable with reading maps and graphs, and following multi-step directions.
  • Materials needed include colored pencils, a globe and/or world maps, printed out worksheets, plus materials for the demonstrations stations in part B. 


  • Begin this lab by asking students about their observations about weather and climate at the local level. Ask questions like, "Where do clouds come from and travel to?"
  • This lab is best suited to be taught in 3-4 class periods, where the total time required for all four parts is 150 minutes.
  • The part B lab can be completed without an internet connection. 
  • Try pairing this lab with this video explaining the difference between weather and climate, this interactive game that helps students investigate why the wind blows, and this interactive map that displays real-time wind speeds and ocean currents.
Scientist Notes

This resource allows students to understand the different climatic zones in the world, explore climate characteristics and drivers across global, regional and local scales. There are no scientific misconceptions in the resource and is recommended for teaching.


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

  • English Language Arts
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • RST.11-12.3 Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks; analyze the specific results based on explanations in the text.
  • Science
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • MS-ESS2-5. Collect data to provide evidence for how the motions and complex interactions of air masses result in changes in weather conditions.
      • 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.
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