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Teaching About the Greenhouse Effect and Global Warming for Middle School

The greenhouse effect for middle school science

Teaching about the Greenhouse Effect, Global Warming, and Climate Change can be tricky.  First of all, there are a lot of people out there that have strong opinions about global warming and climate change. Second of all, it is a complicated topic. 

I would start by teaching about the Greenhouse Effect.  The greenhouse effect is a normal process that balances our global temperature. 

The greenhouse effect is the process by which radiation from a planet’s atmosphere warms the planet’s surface to a temperature above what it would be without its atmosphere. If a planet’s atmosphere contains radiatively active gases they will radiate energy in all directionsgreenhouse effect

After explaining to the students that the greenhouse effect is a natural phenomenon and it helps our Earth to stay a comfortable temperature, I would make sure they understand that without the greenhouse effect, our Earth would get very cold.

I would use slide shows and nonfiction reading to introduce concepts about the Greenhouse effect and probably also a hands-on science investigation.

lab on greenouse effect

recording data on global warming

greenhouse effectI would also have students make a simple model in their interactive notebook showing their understanding of the Greenhouse Effect.
Once, they have an understanding of the Greenhouse Effect, I would introduce them to the enhanced greenhouse effect, which occurs when excess greenhouse gases are in our atmosphere. Less infrared energy can escape the atmosphere because of this excess gas, so our planet gets warmer.  
However, I would not want students to take my word for it!  I would want them to look at the data themselves from some reputable websites, like NOAA. 

I provide students with QR codes that take them to reputable sites to gather information.

QR Codes on Climate DataStudents would record data and draw their own conclusions. 
interactive notebook inserts climate change

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Thank you, and I hope you enjoy using this unit in your classroom!

NGSS MS-ESS3-5. Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.
It is also available here in 
Global Warming Middle School Science Unit
Middle School NGSS Unit Global Warming

This resource also works for Utah SEEd 6.3.4
Thanks for visiting and don’t be afraid to teach controversial topics!  Just let students look at the data and draw their own conclusions. 
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