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Photo by Jill Pelto

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Jill Pelto Gallery


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


Science, Biology, Visual and Performing Arts

Resource Types

  • Artwork
  • Data

Regional Focus

Europe, Polar Regions

"Plotting Spruce History"

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  • In this watercolor and colored pencil piece, scientist and artist Jill Pelto depicts how the spruce tree has migrated through the northern European countries of Norway, Sweden, and Finland as ice has melted over the past 10,000 years.
  • The artwork introduces data points in the form of pollen grains, which symbolize where sediment cores have been taken; each is a different color to represent what the data from the sediment cores revealed about where spruce trees have grown.
Teaching Tips


  • This piece will show students the importance of reconstructing past climates so scientists understand how the environment responds to global warming.
  • The data points and colors will help students visualize the migration and spread of the spruce tree through northern Europe as temperatures rose over the past several thousand years.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should be familiar with scatter point data and how it visually represents information.
  • Students should understand that human activity has contributed to rising temperatures.


  • This resource works equally well in a science class, where students use the data to learn about changing habitats, or in an art classroom, where students can discuss the piece's structure and how people can convey information through art.
  • Social studies or language arts classes can make cross-curricular connections by discussing different parts of the world and how they have changed through history or using art as a prompt for writing.
  • This piece can be an inspiration piece for students to create their own artistic representation of data. Consider using data about habitat changes near you or another concept your class is working on.
  • As an extension, have students use the data to predict the future migration of spruce trees.
Scientist Notes
This is a resource containing the artwork of a scientist that studies climate change. This resource could be helpful in explaining that art also conveys a message and how through art knowledge can be passed on. This resource is recommended for teaching.

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

  • Social Studies
    • U.S. History: America in the World - Geography, People, and the Environment
      • 6.1.12.GeoHE.14.a: Evaluate the impact of individual, business, and government decisions and actions on the environment and climate change and assess the efficacy of government policies and agencies in New Jersey and the United States in addressing these decisions.
  • Visual & Performing Arts
    • Visual Arts: Standard 7 - Perceiving and analyzing products.
      • 1.5.8.Re7a: Explain how a person's aesthetic choices are influenced by culture and environment, and how they impact the way in which visual messages are perceived and conveyed.
      • 1.5.12acc.Re7a: Recognize and describe personal aesthetic and empathetic responses to the natural world and constructed environments.
    • Visual Arts: Standard 8 - Interpreting intent and meaning.
      • 1.5.12acc.Re8a: Identify types of contextual information useful in the process of constructing interpretations of an artwork or collection of works.
  • Science
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • MS-LS2-1. Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem.
      • MS-LS2-4. Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.
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