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9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Earth and Space Sciences, Computer Science

Resource Types

  • Lesson Plans
  • Activity - Classroom
  • Interactive Media
  • Charts, Graphs, and Tables

Regional Focus


The Very Simple Climate Model Activity

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  • This interactive activity will get students thinking about carbon emissions, global average temperatures, amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and using climate models to explore solutions. 
  • Students will learn how the climate model works through exploration and discussion, use the model to test different climate scenarios, and share their findings with classmates.
Teaching Tips


  • The provided instructions are thorough and easy to follow.
  • Students will complete this activity with a good understanding of the impact of carbon emissions and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. 

Additional Prerequisites

  • Materials needed for this activity include computers or tablets, paper, writing utensils, and presentation materials (posters or digital presentation software). 
  • Students should be comfortable reading graphs. 


  • Cross-curricular connections can be made in language arts classes working on public speaking or communicating technical or scientific information and in social studies classes considering the roles of individuals and governments in reducing carbon emissions. 
  • Use the additional sample model runs included in the Teaching Tips section of the resource to extend learning. 
  • Several extension activities and resources are included at the bottom of the resource for additional learning on this important topic.
  • To extend the lesson for science and math students, have them investigate other climate models, learn about how climate data is gathered, and analyze the solutions to climate change using this interactive table of solutions.
Scientist Notes
This is a simplified climate model created by UCAR, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, which allows students to play around with carbon emissions and see the global warming impact. This resource is recommended for teaching.

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

  • Science
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-5. Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth’s systems.
      • 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.
  • English Language Arts
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • SL.PE.11-12.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with peers on grades 11-12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
      • SL.PI.11-12.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically. The content, organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
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