MFA Kids | Learn About Climate Change

What is Climate Change?

Climate change describes a change in the earth’s average conditions—such as temperature and precipitation (rainfall, for example)—over a long period of time. For example, 20,000 years ago, much of the United States was covered in glaciers. In the United States today, we have a warmer climate and fewer glaciers.

Global climate change refers to the average long-term changes over the entire earth. These include warming temperatures and changes in precipitation, as well as their effects, such as:

  • Rising sea levels
  • Shrinking mountain glaciers
  • Ice melting at a faster rate than usual near the earth’s poles (including Greenland, Antarctica, and the Arctic)
  • Changes in flower and plant blooming times
  • Increases in frequency and severity of extreme weather events (storms, floods, fires, and drought)

Earth’s climate is constantly changing—this began long before humans came into the picture. However, scientists have observed unusual changes recently. For example, Earth’s average temperature has been increasing much more quickly over the past 150 years than scientists expected based on data from earlier eras. Sea levels are rising faster than before. Rainfall is becoming more intense but less frequent. Temperatures are increasing and staying at extremes for longer. The next 150 years is difficult to predict, but teamwork and effort will be required if we are to adapt to a changing climate and develop new ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

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1. Watch the Videos

To learn more about climate change, watch these videos from National Geographic and Ted-Ed.

2. Complete the Activity

Glaciers Then and Now (Grade School Age) 

Try this glacier matching activity from the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. The activity was designed for groups but is also appropriate for individual students. Think about the videos you watched. What factors could have caused the changes in glacier mass?

  1. Download and print the Image Pairs for the Glaciers Then and Now Classroom Activity created by the National Earth Science Teachers Association. Follow the directions on page one to cut apart the glacier images. Mix up the images in a pile.
  2. Try to match the glacier images from the past and present. (Note: Use the key to check your work but don’t peek at it before you try to match the pairs!)
  3. Discuss the images and reveal the correct matches. Discuss what weather conditions would cause the glaciers to change.
  4. Take notes about what is similar and different about the pairs of images.

CO2: How Much Do You Spew? Activity (Middle School Age)—Optional

In this optional and more advanced lesson developed by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research you will be asked to calculate the carbon footprint of different families. Do as many as you’d like—you can even try calculating your own family’s carbon footprint! Click here to view the lesson.

3. Complete the Coloring Page

Time to color! This coloring page is all about carbon emission. Notice that not all of the arrows point to the atmosphere. Click here to download the coloring page.

4. Download Your Badge!

Congratulations, you’ve finished the geology activity! Don’t forget to download your Climate Change Badge and add it to your MFA Kids Activity Passport. Remember, one completed activity equals one prize; five completed activities equals two prizes!

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