Real World, Real Science Curriculum Modules

Real World, Real Science is a NASA-funded collaboration with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) that builds on the success of GMRI’S existing LabVenture! Program to create new learning experiences focused on exploring the effects of climate change in and around the Gulf of Maine. As part of this project, ODI staff are developing curriculum modules that use authentic NASA and NOAA data to study the effects of the Earth’s changing climate on the animals and plants of Maine’s diverse habitats. Try the modules in your own classrooms! Three are currently available and more are coming soon. Before you start to teach, read our Teaching Tips for helpful reminders.

Available Units:


The Shape of Change

At LabVenture, students used data to explore how ocean temperature in the Gulf of Maine is changing and how those changes are impacting two key species that live there. In this set of lessons, students will explore global and local air temperature data and use a variety of data representations to determine the shape of change over time—past, present, and future.

About this Module
Glossary

Lessons

  • Lesson 1: Global Change
    Students use data to explore how global temperature is changing over time and practice good habits for interpreting data tables and graphs.
    Teacher GuideOnline Student Lesson | Student Sheet (Google Doc or Print)
  • Lesson 2: Local Change
    Students explore how temperature has changed in Maine, how it is predicted to change over the next 100 years, and how Maine's forecasted future temperature compares to other states.
    Teacher GuideOnline Student Lesson | Student Sheet (Google Doc or Print)
     

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Climate and Changing Ecosystems
    • Changes in Maine’s ecosystems are local instances of global patterns of change.
  • Data and Scientific Inquiry (This is the work that scientists do!)
    • Data help us understand a problem or phenomenon and can be used as evidence to support scientific claims.
    • Data can be represented and organized in different ways in order to answer different questions or reveal new information.
    • Using data to understand a phenomenon involves being able to read and make sense of data representations (tables, graphs, maps, etc.) and models.

 

Marine Ecosystem: Lobsters & Black Sea Bass 

As students learned in their visit to LabVenture, ocean temperatures in the Gulf of Maine are rising; and as this is happening, it is affecting the distribution of species in the Gulf - pushing lobster populations further north, and opening the Gulf to the presence of black sea bass, which were historically found further to the south. This series of lessons will continue to explore these changes, using data representations different from those used in LabVenture to explore how temperature is changing, and how catch rates of lobster and black sea bass are changing over time along the New England coastline. In each lesson, students will also be introduced to the concepts of modeling, and how scientists use models to predict what could happen to these species in the future.

About this Module
​Glossary

Lessons

  • Lesson 1: Changing Oceans
    Students examine evidence that sea surface temperature is increasing along the New England coastline, learn about methods to study trends in data and make predictions using data, and run a simulation to illustrate the nature of the relationship between time and sea surface temperature. 
    Teacher GuideOnline Student Lesson | Student Sheet (Google Doc or Print)
  • Lesson 2: The Future of Lobster in Maine
    Students examine changes in lobster catch rates around New England and explore a simple model of the relationship between lobster populations and ocean temperature. 
    Teacher GuideOnline Student Lesson | Student Sheet (Google Doc or Print)
  • Lesson 3: The Future of Black Sea Bass in Maine
    Students examine changes in black sea bass catch rates around the coastline of the northeastern United States. Building off the previous two lessons students do more of the data manipulation as they look at trends and the relationship between black sea bass populations and ocean temperature. 
    Teacher GuideOnline Student Lesson | Student Sheet (Google Doc or Print)
  • Lesson 4: Modeling the Gulf of Maine
    Students begin to observe what happens when we add complexity to their models and students are invited to add their own inputs to the model, and to think about their effects.
    Teacher GuideOnline Student Lesson | Student Sheet (Google Doc or Print)

     

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Recognize graphs of change over time as evidence of change in ecosystems. 
  • Use information drawn from a combination of graphs and maps to describe changes with a geographical dimension (e.g. shifts in population distribution or range).
  • Recognize that data can be organized and represented in different ways to answer different questions, e.g., students make connections between a data table and a data visualization.
  • View local instances of change as part of a larger system of change.
  • Use data as evidence to support a claim.
  • Use data visualizations to communicate about and to understand/make sense of a phenomenon.
  • Recognize models as a tool that can help you think about the future.

Forest Ecosystem: Ticks & Lyme Disease

Lyme disease, the most common tick-borne illness in the U.S., is on the rise in Maine. Scientists believe that temperature and humidity play an important role in the survival of ticks and the spread of Lyme disease. At LabVenture, students used data to explore how ocean temperature in the Gulf of Maine is changing and how those changes are impacting where lobsters and black sea bass prefer to live. In this set of lessons, students will use data to explore how the rate of Lyme disease is changing across the state of Maine as well as how temperature and rainfall are changing in two different Maine counties. Students will use a variety of data representations to make evidence-supported claims about and what those changes might mean for the survival of ticks and the spread of Lyme disease in the future. Students will synthesize what they learn by writing a public service announcement to inform the public about Lyme disease and to persuade them to take action.

About this Module
​Glossary

Lessons

  • Lesson 1: Lyme Disease in Maine
    Students use multiple data representations to ask and answer questions about what's happening with the spread of Lyme disease, and share their personal connections to the disease and interaction with ticks.
    Teacher GuideOnline Student Lesson | Student Sheet (Google Doc or Print)
  • Lesson 2: Lyme Disease by County
    Students investigate how the rate of Lyme disease is changing in their county, and other counties in Maine, over time.
    Teacher GuideOnline Student Lesson | Student Sheet (Google Doc or Print)
  • Lesson 3: Temperature
    Students learn about the ideal temperature range for ticks and use data to explore how temperature is changing across Maine. Students will compare temperature data, identify trends, and forecast future temperature conditions for two counties to determine if these counties provide suitable conditions for ticks.
    Teacher GuideOnline Student Lesson | Student Sheet (Google Doc or Print)
  • Lesson 4: Rainfall
    Students explore how precipitation (rainfall) is changing over time in Maine and what impacts those changes might have on the spread of Lyme disease.
    Teacher Guide | Online Student Lesson | Student Sheet (Google Doc or Print)
  • Lesson 5: Write a Public Service Announcement
    Students consolidate the evidence they have gathered about the transmission of Lyme disease, its increasing prevalence in Maine, and the climate factors driving that trend to write a community-oriented public service announcement in a creative format.
    Teacher GuidePSA Graphic Organizer | Images and Data Visualizations | Sample PSA Grading Rubric

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Climate and Changing Ecosystems
    • Changes in Maine’s ecosystems are local instances of global patterns of change.
    • Changes in ecosystems have impacts on the species within those ecosystems—some populations thrive, some move, some decline.
  • Data and Scientific Inquiry (This is the work that scientists do!)
    • Data help us understand a problem or phenomenon and can be used as evidence to support scientific claims.
    • We use data in a combination of graphs and maps to represent ecosystem change in both time and space.
    • Data can be represented and organized in different ways in order to answer different questions or reveal new information.
    • Using data to understand a phenomenon involves being able to read and make sense of data representations (tables, graphs, maps, etc.) and models.

 


Freshwater Ecosystem: Ice-Out

People have been recording lake ice-out day (the day of the year in which ice cover leaves a lake) in Maine for more than two hundred years out of both general curiosity and community interest. In this learning module, students explore how average winter temperatures and the ice-out day for Sebago Lake are changing over time.

About this Module
​Glossary

Lessons

  • Lesson 1: On Thin Ice
    Students begin their exploration of lake ice-out in Maine, focusing on the specific example of multiple cancellations of the Sebago Lake Rotary Fishing Derby due to unsafe ice conditions. Students share their personal connections to winter lake ice and learn some basics about ice safety. 
    Teacher GuideOnline Student Lesson
  • Lesson 2: Temperature
    Are changing temperatures on land in Maine impacting when lake ice is melting? In this lesson, students use data to explore how winter temperature is changing near Sebago Lake by considering “what’s normal,” identifying trends, and forecasting future winter temperatures.  
    Teacher GuideOnline Student Lesson | Student Sheet (Google Doc)
  • Lesson 3: Ice-Out Day
    Students consolidate the evidence they have gathered about the Sebago Lake Rotary Ice Fishing Derby, historical and forecasted trends in lake ice-out date, and the climate factors driving that trend to write a recommendation letter to the Derby’s organizing committee in an engaging format.  
    Teacher GuideOnline Student Lesson | Student Sheet (Google Doc)
  • Lesson 4: Write a Recommendation Letter
    Students begin to observe what happens when we add complexity to their models and students are invited to add their own inputs to the model, and to think about their effects.
    Teacher Guide | Graphic Organizer | Images and Data Visualizations | Letter Grading Rubric
     

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Climate and Changing Ecosystems
    • Changes in Maine’s ecosystems are local instances of global patterns of change.
    • Changes in ecosystems have impacts on the species within those ecosystems—some populations thrive, some move, some decline.
  • Data and Scientific Inquiry (This is the work that scientists do!)
    • Data help us understand a problem or phenomenon and can be used as evidence to support scientific claims.
    • We use data in a combination of graphs and maps to represent ecosystem change in both time and space.
    • Data can be represented and organized in different ways in order to answer different questions or reveal new information.
    • Using data to understand a phenomenon involves being able to read and make sense of data representations (tables, graphs, maps, etc.) and models.

 

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