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The Climate Initiative


5th, 6th, 7th, 8th


Science, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Types

  • Lesson Plan
  • Worksheet
  • Presentation Slides
  • Video
  • Article
  • Data
  • Game

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - Northeast, Maine


Google Docs, Google Slides

Potato Farming in Maine's Changing Climate Module

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  • This module of four lessons for middle school students has learners examine the changing climate conditions in Maine and how this might affect potato farmers.
  • Students will analyze climate and agricultural data, design a desirable potato, play a board game which models farmers' decisions based on crop yields for different varieties of potatoes through changing climate conditions, and consider how breeding different varieties of potatoes could result in a climate resilient potato.
  • Each lesson has a teacher guide, slides, a worksheet, and supporting learning resources.
Teaching Tips


  • This activity is well-paced and scaffolded for a middle school science class and supports students throughout the four lessons.
  • The lessons include a variety of methods for gathering evidence and scientific knowledge, including map analysis, reading, videos, and modeling through games.
  • There is a focus on solutions, with students designing a climate-resilient potato.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should understand basic agricultural and biological terms such as breeding, traits, adaptation, and growing conditions.
  • Students should be able to work cooperatively in a group to play a modeling board game.


  • For reading assignments, provide reading scaffolds by assisting in vocabulary definitions, supporting students in determining main ideas, and offering sentence starters during discussions.
  • While students are designing their climate-resilient potatoes, consider talking students through cause and effect so that they can effectively match an adaptive solution with the climate-induced problem.
  • During lesson three, when students play a modeling board game, it may be helpful to have additional adults moderate the small groups as they play to ensure they understand the key takeaways.
  • Utilize the comprehensive Teacher's Guide for extension activities, discussion questions, and additional facilitation tips.
Scientist Notes
This resource uses the case study of potato farming in Maine to demonstrate resilience in the face of climate change. Included figures are easy to understand, and all have sources cited. This resource introduces students to how crops are adapted to face a changing climate in an interactive way 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.6-8.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts.
      • RST.6-8.9 Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, video, or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on the same topic.
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • SL.8.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
    • Writing (K-12)
      • W.6.1 Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.
  • Mathematics
    • Statistics & Probability (6-8)
      • 7.SP.A.1 Understand that statistics can be used to gain information about a population by examining a sample of the population; generalizations about a population from a sample are valid only if the sample is representative of that population. Understand that random sampling tends to produce representative samples and support valid inferences.
  • Science
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • 5-ESS3-1. Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.
      • MS-ESS3-5. Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • MS-LS2-4. Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.
      • MS-LS2-5. Evaluate competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services.
  • Career Readiness, Life Literacies, & Key Skills
    • Life Literacies and Key Skills
      • 9.4.8.CI.1: Assess data gathered on varying perspectives on causes of climate change (e.g., crosscultural, gender-specific, generational), and determine how the data can best be used to design multiple potential solutions (e.g., RI.7.9, 6.SP.B.5, 7.1.NH.IPERS.6, 8.2.8.ETW.4).
  • Related Resources


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