Welcome Educators! This teacher's guide was produced by the National Center for Atmospheric Research as a companion to the Climate Discovery exhibit at our Boulder, Colorado laboratory. It contains lessons appropriate for grades 5-9 on a variety of Earth system science topics that facilitate student learning about our planet's climate system.

Investigating Climate Present:
Cycles of the Earth System

In this unit, students explore the cycles of our ever-changing planet. Hands-on activities, data collection, and a cycling game allow students to learn more about the environmental cycles that influence Earth's climate.

Click on the links to the right to open the lesson plans within this unit. All lessons are in pdf format and require Acrobat Reader to open.


(Click to download the free Acrobat Reader.)

1 Carbon Cycle: Carbon Dioxide Sources and Sinks

2 Nitrogen Cycle: Traveling Nitrogen

3 Ocean and Atmosphere: Make Convection Currents

4 Energy Cycle: Albedo

Additional Online Resources

Earth (Windows to the Universe)

Project LEARN

Kids' Crossing: Living in the Greenhouse

Climate Discovery Teacher's Guide

For more information:

  • Project Coordinator: Susan Foster
  • Educational Designer: Lisa Gardiner

Funding for this project was provided by Friends of UCAR.