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8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Types

  • Interactive Media
  • Video
  • Data
  • Assessment

Regional Focus

Global, North America, United States, USA - West, USA - South

Drought Basics

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  • In this interactive resource, students will learn about the different types of drought, the causes and effects of drought, and how scientists monitor it.
  • Students will read, watch videos, and analyze graphs within the interactive presentation and there are discussion questions and other supporting materials provided.
Teaching Tips


  • Teachers can easily assign this lesson as independent work via Google Classroom and other platforms.
  • Students will remain engaged with various visualizations and graphics to illustrate the concepts.

Additional Prerequisites

  • You may need to switch to Student View for the Launch button to work.
  • Students will need to know the terms precipitation, climate, aridity, hydrological, and others before beginning the lesson.
  • It may benefit students to understand the difference between a drought and a water shortage.


  • Geography students can look at climate zones across the United States and discuss why drought means something different in different places. 
  • Students in math classes can practice analyzing and answering questions about the graphs in the lesson.
  • Students can brainstorm ways to conserve water in their homes or use a water footprint calculator to understand their water usage.
  • If you want to assign the lesson as independent work, a Chrome extension to read the text aloud will help any struggling readers.
Scientist Notes
In this lesson, students will learn about different types of droughts, what they are, and how they are connected. The lesson breaks up droughts into different categories that focus on the different causes and impacts of periods of droughts, as well as how it is impacted by climate change. The explanations are simple and explain the concept of a drought well. Students may have more questions about how human influences are affecting droughts. The information presented is accurate and the resource 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.6-8.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts.
      • RST.11-12.4 Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 11-12 texts and topics.
      • RST.11-12.10 By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 11-CCR text complexity band independently and proficiently.
  • Science
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • MS-ESS2-1. Develop a model to describe the cycling of Earth’s materials and the flow of energy that drives this process.
      • 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-ESS2-4. 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-ESS3-2. Analyze and interpret data on natural hazards to forecast future catastrophic events and inform the development of technologies to mitigate their effects.
      • HS-ESS3-1. Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity.
      • HS-ESS3-6. Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • HS-LS2-2. Use mathematical representations to support and revise explanations based on evidence about factors affecting biodiversity and populations in ecosystems of different scales.
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