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Climate Change in Your Own Backyard

Understanding the complexity of climate change can be an extremely challenging endeavor for adults, much less for high school students. By studying climate change in the context of a student’s local community or region — often referred to as place-based learning — the science of climate change can become much more accessible. Complex issues are broken down into relevant topics with a familiar context for students. In this lesson set, students begin by analyzing the global impacts of extreme weather events. They narrow their focus through various national, regional, and community lenses. By examining these different levels of climate impact, students can more accurately assess the relationship between severe weather events and current climate trends as well as design potential mitigation solutions for the future of their community.

This lesson set was updated on March 1, 2022.


Age Level
Grades 9-12
4-6 50 minute classes


Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • HS-ESS2.D3: Changes in the atmosphere due to human activity have increased carbon dioxide concentrations and thus affect climate.
  • HS-ESS2.D4: Current models predict that, although future regional climate changes will be complex and varied, average global temperatures will continue to rise. The outcomes predicted by global climate models strongly depend on the amounts of human-generated greenhouse gases added to the atmosphere each year and by the ways in which these gases are absorbed by the ocean and biosphere.
  • HS-ESS3.C1: The sustainability of human societies and the biodiversity that supports them requires responsible management of natural resources.
  • HS-ESS3.D.1: Though the magnitude of human impacts are greater than they have ever been, so too are human activities to model, predict, and manage current and future impacts.

Performance expectations

  • 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 an out of Earth's systems result in changes in climate.
  • HS-ESS3-4:Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
  • 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 systems.

Other Relevant NGSS References:

  1. NGSS Appendix F (pdf): Science and Engineering Practices in the NGSS
  2. NGSS Appendix G (pdf): Crosscutting Concepts
  3. NGSS Appendix H (pdf): Understanding the Scientific Enterprise: The Nature of Science in the Next Generation Science Standards
  4. NGSS Appendix J (pdf): Science, Technology, Society and the Environment

This is a beta version of Lesson Set Four.


These free NCSE lesson sets are Selected-by-CLEAN. The Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network (CLEAN) uses a peer-review process to identify high-quality materials that align with the Climate and Energy Literacy Principles and the Next Generation Science Standards. Click the badge above to learn more.

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