Lesson Plan

Why Climate Varies

Explore different factors that make the climate for 4 cities at the same latitude, very different.
Barbara H.
Education Program Manager, Mid-Atlantic/D.C. Metro Area - Common Sense Education
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Students will be able to...identify different factors that influence climate: latitude, proximity to a body of water,  elevation and how these factors determine what plants can grow in an area, ultimately understanding the distribution of biomes globally.  

Grades 6 - 12
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1 How can it be? Four cities at the same latitude are in four different biomes?

A.  Annotate a Map including the four following cities that are approximately at the same latitude:

  • 1. San Diego, CA
  • 2. Lubbock, TX
  • 3. Phoenix, AZ
  • 4. Jackson, MS 

B.  Upload the annotated map with the four cities into Zeetings.   Broadcast your Zeeting and pro-ject the "meeting space" on the front board.   Students will be able to make comments about the map and discuss their thoughts with each other on this meeting space.  

C.  Ask the Question - What possible factors could cause four cities that are almost at the same latitude to be in four different biomes?

D.  Have your students join the Zeeting and facilitate a discussion with your students with the comments that they are posting in the Zeeting.   

2 Explore Geographic Factors

1.  Direct students to download and save the Biomes and Climate project file. Click on it and it will launch Google Earth. 

2.  Have students locate each of the four cities (San Diego, CA, Lubbock, TX, Phoenix, AZ, Jackson, MS)  on Google Earth and record the following for each:  

  • Latitude
  • Elevation
  • Biome
  • Proximity to the Ocean (Use the ruler tool for this and have the map it out in meters.)

3 Investigate Climatic History

Students should be working in pairs.  Have each pair of students create two line graphs using Infogr.am with a legend showing what color each city represents for:

  1. Average temperature for each month of the year. (in degrees C) 
  2. Average Precipitation for each month in the year. (in inches. 

Historical weather data from can be found on the weather underground website:    http://www.wunderground.com/history/

4 Create a Digital Poster Explaining the Factors that Impact Climate

1.  Have each pair of students create a digital poster on lino.it summarizing why the climate could be so different for four cities at very similar latitudes by analyzing the data collected in parts 2 & 3.

2.  Students may need to do some additional research to back up their conclusions and should correctly cite their sources on their poster.  


5 Design a Test to Evaluate your Peer's Climate Knowledge

  1. Have student groups create a 5 question Quizz.iz to use for a review of factors that impact climate that can be answered using information from your lino.it Digital Poster.  
  2. Use individual student Quizziz as a short warm up or review of Factors that Impact Climate for classes following this activity.