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MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Physics, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Types

  • Lesson Plan
  • Article
  • Podcast, 11 minutes, 7 seconds
  • Activity - Classroom
  • Activity - Outdoors
  • Experiment
  • Interactive Media
  • Worksheet
  • Video, 2 minutes, 41 seconds, CC, Subtitles

Regional Focus

Global, North America, Polar Regions


PDF, Downloadable MP4/M4V

Winter Storms and Climate Change

Ask a Question

  • This lesson teaches students about albedo, feedback loops, the difference between weather and climate, the polar vortex, and the jet stream.
  • It outlines eight different activities designed to be used with the TILclimate podcast episode about winter storms and includes demonstrations, an experiment, animations, a video, readings, graphs, and maps.
Teaching Tips


  • Through these activities, students are able to practice collecting data, reading scientific texts, and interpreting maps and graphs.
  • Each activity from the guide can be used independently, so teachers can pick and choose which activities best fit their classroom and curriculum requirements.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should already know about greenhouse gas emissions and the greenhouse effect.
  • Some activities require devices with Internet access. However, if this is not available, the teacher guide provides possible modifications.
  • Some activities require specific materials or conditions, such as infrared thermometers or sunshine.


  • All activities can be done independently, with a partner, or in small groups.
  • The activities lend themselves well to a station rotation or jigsaw format. Teachers can be creative in how they structure the activities based on the time available and the needs of their students.
  • Teachers can use the discussion questions in the guide at the end of the lesson to ensure students understand the connections between the topics covered in each activity.
  • These activities can be helpful additions to Earth science lessons covering various topics, such as albedo, weather vs. climate, air masses, rising global temperatures, sea ice melt, and extreme weather.
  • Cross-curricular connections can be made with social studies classes by discussing how extreme winter weather impacts communities.
  • The guide includes links to additional resources that can provide background for teachers or be used to further student exploration.
Scientist Notes
This lesson investigates and elaborates on the difference between climate change and weather through an ~11 minute podcast, lesson plan guide, resources, discussion questions, worksheets, and experiments. This lesson is well sourced and researched and would make a great addition to a unit about climate change and weather.

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.9-10.2 Determine the central ideas, themes, or conclusions of a text; trace the text's explanation or depiction of a complex process, phenomenon, or concept; provide an accurate summary of the text.
      • RST.11-12.2 Determine the central ideas, themes, or conclusions of a text; summarize complex concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms.
      • RST.11-12.3 Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks; analyze the specific results based on explanations in the text.
  • 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.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • 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.
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