Review by Jason Shiroff, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2016

NASA Climate Kids

Kid-friendly, expert site explores key climate issues

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • Science
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
3-6
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (2 Reviews)

Take a look inside

5 images

Pros: This fun, fact-filled website invites students to explore and play while maintaining great depth in its content.

Cons: Text-heavy information is often organized several layers deep; finding specific answers to climate questions can be challenging.

Bottom Line: A great launching point for engaging in accurate and timely climate change information.

Teachers can use NASA Climate Kids as a toolbox for learning about global climate change. Exploring the Guided Tour of the Big Questions could help build essential background information before you dig deeper. Teachers can have students try games, such as Offset, to make learning about the carbon cycle more engaging. These games could be flipped for playing at home, with follow-up discussions taking place at school. Videos such as "What is Happening in the Ocean" can spark whole-class discussions. The Teach about Climate Change page is full of resources and links that teachers may find useful for planning lessons.

Continue reading Show less

NASA Climate Kids is a comprehensive website covering a variety of global climate change topics. The website provides many ways to engage in learning including games, hands-on activities, facts, videos, and career profiles. The site is organized into categories such as air, ocean, fresh water, carbon cycle, and energy. The Guided Tour of the Big Questions uses a topic wheel to introduce students to the basics and provides answers to "What is global climate change?" and "What can we do to help?" The information is often text-heavy, and no audio support is offered. A page is dedicated to teaching about climate change and includes links to other websites; some of these links no longer work.

The Climate Change Time Machine is a standout interactive feature of the site that feeds the scientific inquiry process. Users can go backward and forward through time to visually see evidence of how Earth has changed over the years. The Time Machine includes maps of sea ice, sea level, carbon emissions, and average global temperature. 

Continue reading Show less

NASA Climate Kids is an excellent learning tool for students because it provides accurate scientific information using a variety of media (games, videos, and interactives) that touch on the same topics. Offering multiple ways to access this critical information reaches a diverse set of students and provides opportunities for deeper learning. The website is colorful and well-designed, but some students may struggle with the text-heavy articles. The site would be even more useful if information was easier to find and it provided audio support, translations, and other accessibility features.

Continue reading Show less
Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Climate Kids quickly draws students into a safe and developmentally appropriate environment and offers easy ways to find games, videos, facts, and offline activities. Some students may skip over large sections of text.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

The ample collection of games, hands-on activities, and videos answer big climate questions but may become overwhelming without teacher guidance. 

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

The games include helpful tutorials, and some educator materials are provided, but this text-heavy website doesn't offer audio support or other accessibility features.


Common Sense Reviewer
Jason Shiroff Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 2 reviews) (2 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Jennifer V. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Gallego Basic Elementary School
Tucson, AZ
Reading Content and Interactives Help Students Explore Specific Questions about Climate Change

This site is visually appealing and does a thorough job of chunking this complex topic into manageable pieces for younger learns. The initial interface shows a wheel with 7 big questions and from there students can drill down to a particular aspect of climate change, from basics such as “What is Climate” to more advanced specifics such as “How Can So Little arming Cause So Much Melting”. The final reading passages have simple supporting images and the text is again chunked into manageable pieces.

Another way to navigate the site is by the top menu bar, which has the headings: play, make, know, keep, watch, dream, teach. I have found that these tools are more appealing to the students when they are given free choice about how to use the site. The materials in these categories is variable.

For example, in the “Make” category, some activities such as “Make an Ocean Ecosystem” contain no scientific content in the core activity itself. There is a passage that can be pre-read prior to the recipe for an edible ocean but students skip to the recipe. This fun activity would be better suited to camp or play at home than educational use. A second activity, “Make a Butterfly Garden” is rich in content, but in order to complete the actual activity students would need to do additional research on the plants of their area. As a third example, “Birds and Climate Change” has content best suited to 4th-8th grade, but an activity (peanut butter bird seed feeder) more suited to much younger children.

Many of the activities listed under “Games” are actually interactives. A useful one is The Climate Time Machine is an example of an interactive that enriches student understand with specific information and clear, easily manipulated graphics. It demonstrates exponential (check term) rate of ice depletion far better than numbers alone, yet pair with numbers younger students may be able to start to develop an understanding of relative size over natural numbers.

Another interactive, Coral Bleaching, gets its point across with possibly intentional inflexible. Students are able to toggle the amount of pollution in the water and the the temperature increase but almost all combinations lead to irreversible bleaching. While this is accurate, it might be helpful for students to have a wider range of choices with these variables so they understood that that in the past the ocean was indeed able to rebound from changes.

Read full review