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University of Maine, Sea Grant Project


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Social Studies, Biology, Mathematics

Resource Types

  • Articles and Websites
  • Scientific Papers or Reports
  • Charts, Graphs, and Tables

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - Northeast, Maine



Phenology in a Changing Climate: Signs of the Seasons

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  • This article emphasizes the importance of observational data collected by citizen scientists, with a focus on the Signs of the Seasons volunteer program through the University of Maine.
  • The article describes phenology, talks about the importance of this information in understanding the effects of climate change in local areas, looks at the data for Maine, and encourages individuals to become citizen scientists to contribute to this effort.
Teaching Tips


  • This article provides a positive action that students can take that will connect them with nature.
  • The text features in the article at the top allow for easy navigation throughout.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should be familiar with the terms indicator species, budbreak, and sugaring season.
  • Students should have a basic understanding of plant and animal life cycles. 
  • Students need access to the Internet to read through the article and access the linked resources.


  • This article could supplement a classroom discussion on how climate change is impacting global food production. 
  • This article could enhance a lesson on how climate change impacts ecosystems and biodiversity.
  • This report could be used to create free-response questions about what students can do to fight climate change and reduce human impacts on ecosystems.
  • Biology classes can use this article to support lessons about symbiotic relationships, ecosystem functions, biodiversity, or the life cycles of plants.
Scientist Notes
This resource from the University of Maine introduces students to phenology, the observation of the seasonal life cycle phases of plants and animals, and then highlights the work of Signs of the Seasons, a volunteer observation program that provides scientists with data to track the local impacts of global climate change. This resource features clear text and figures, colorful photographs, and is well cited, including many peer reviewed sources. After an introduction to phenology and the Signs of the Seasons program, the resource focuses heavily on how citizen investigators are providing the crucial data to understand how climate change is impacting the sugar maple, an important species in Maine’s economy. The Phenology Observation Portal is linked, a great source for independent study. The page closes with a call for more volunteer observers and an interest form is linked. This resource clearly shows the work being done to understand an important impact of climate change and is recommended for teaching.

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

  • Mathematics
    • Functions: Interpreting Functions (9-12)
      • 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.
  • Science
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • 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.
  • English Language Arts
    • Reading: Informational Text (K-12)
      • RI.CI.9–10.2 Determine one or more central ideas of an informational text and analyze how it is developed and refined over the course of a text, including how it emerges and is shaped by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
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