Grade 5 students are just beginning their unit on climate change and are starting with the question, what’s the difference between weather and climate? Weather, by definition, is the condition of the atmosphere at any given time in a specific location; it changes fairly often. Climate, on the other hand, refers to weather patterns in a particular area over many, many years. The class is currently studying climographs which show the average temperature and amount of precipitation per month in a specific location.

In looking at climate graphs from different places around the world, the class began to make inferences from the data about what was happening with climate over time. They also looked at graphs without geographic labels and from the data were able to make some educated guesses about the types of biomes depicted. Does this graph show that the area in question has four seasons? Does it have a rainy season? What is the difference between high and low temperatures? How much does the amount of precipitation change during the course of a year?

Next, students will be given weather data from several locations and will be charged with creating the accompanying graphs. Finally, before moving on to the current climate change crisis, students will look at historic changes to the earth’s climate that occurred eons ago such as the Ice Ages. While the unit on today’s problem will look at the causes of climate change and the problems that are being caused by human carelessness, students will also learn about what they can do to help.