How Do Humans Contribute to the Increase in Global Temperatures?

Students explore the greenhouse effect in this lesson using a computer simulation and develop a model for how it works.

Context for Use

This is the fourth lesson in the Climate Resiliency Education High School Climate Unit.

Two smokestacks releasing smoke into the air.

Goals Header
What Students Will Do

Students will learn that albedo doesn’t explain the worldwide trend of increasing temperature.


  1. (5 minutes) Do Now: Reorient students to the storyline.
  2. (15 minutes) Sharing Initial Ideas Discussion: Generate ideas for today's lesson.
  3. (14 minutes) Data analysis: Albedo in Colorado 
  4. (5 minutes) Discuss: Return to the Driving Questions Board to determine the missing variable.
  5. (5 minutes) Brainstorm: Generate ideas for next steps in the investigation.
  6. (5 minutes) Data analysis: Introduce Greenhouse gasses. 
  7. (25 minutes) Using Models: Explore the PhET Greenhouse Effect simulation and the Concord Conservatory Radiant Energy simulation..
  8. (15 minutes) Using Models: Create a model on poster paper.
  9. (15 minutes) Building Understanding Discussion: Debrief on using models.
  10. (5 minutes) Consensus Building Discussion: Discuss what we've learned.
Illustration of two people high-fiving in a work environment

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