Resource Type
Completion Time
Less than a week
Middle School and Up
Download, Share, and Remix
Liza Backman
Teacher Slides
(IN PERSON) Student Worksheet
(IN PERSON) Student Check for Understanding (Exit Ticket)
(IN PERSON) Group Data Sets (Pre-Cut by Teacher)
(IN PERSON) Access to a Classroom Shared Spreadsheet
(VIRTUAL) Individual Student Work Slides
(VIRTUAL) A Classroom Shared Spreadsheet
Climate Change
Life Science
General Life Science
History of Biology and Life Sciences
Tools and Methods


This content has been created with the intent for the teacher to develop it to best suit their classroom setting. In its most basic form, students are asked to analyze wet and dry berry data to determine how water content changes (or doesn’t) for several berry species over the course of one season.

This lesson has multiple stages or sections within it that could be developed into stand alone lessons. Curriculum Writer (CW) Notes and Teacher Notes have been added in to the downloadable version of the lesson plan to identify those areas with explanations on how they could be expanded. Because of the comment above, this content is written to take approximately two 45 minute days, but it very well could stretch into roughly four to five 45-minute periods.

All materials needed for the lesson have been linked in the downloadable version of the lesson plan.


Introduction/Do-Now/Warm Up

  • Turn and Talk: What’s your favorite berry? And Why?
  • Review with students the major compositional components in a berry: Water, Sugar, and Other Organic Content
  • Review objectives with students

Elicit student ideas

Ask students to share their thoughts around the following questions: * What do you think of when you think about the Arctic? Or “Alaska”? * What food do you think grows in Alaska?

Providing Students with the Broader Context

  • Use student ideas developed in eliciting section to help review the importance of berries as a food source in the arctic both for humans and animals (which then humans eat as well)
  • Remind students that this is why studying berries (in general) is an important topic

Task #1: Types of Berries

  • Share with students that although the arctic is home to many, many different berry species, there are only five berry species that we will be focusing on and analyzing in the days to come. Have students record the berry species names
  • Student Task: Students are tasked with using the ITEX-AON website,through Grand Valley State University, to identify the Iñupiaq (native) name, the common name, and a use of each species of interest (5 in total).

Mini-Lesson: Collecting Berry Data

  • Let students know that for the rest of the lesson(s), they will be using data collected by scientists in the Arctic that are trying to understand part of the bigger question “How is climate change affecting berry growth and nutritional value?”
  • Review the Collection Protocols (methods) slides with students

Task #2: Analyzing a Given Graph

Guide students through annotations of the parts of a graph. Below is a suggestion of items to identify and highlight for students:

  • Title of Graph
  • Title of X-Axis
  • Title of Y-Axis
  • The Key + Different Colors + What they mean?

Students will then spend a few minutes working on the following two analysis questions:

  • What trend do you notice within each species?
  • What do you notice when you compare species?

Mini-Lesson: Initial Graph Summary

  • Summarize for students that the trend is that berries are “growing” in mass over the course of the season. Remind students that as scientists, we aren’t always satisfied with just seeing the trend, we want to know more about it, which leads into the following “big question: Why are the berries getting bigger over the course of the season?” Relay to students that because this question is fairly broad, we might want to distill it into a more simpler question first, such as “What part of the berry is growing? Sugar? Water? Something Else?”
  • Have students discuss the “Think About It” Question: Think back to the methods we discussed earlier, which of these variables do you think we monitored the most closely during the season? Why? (Hint: Which did we do in the lab?)
  • Review with students the laboratory procedures needed to collect the data that will then be processed to determine water content.

Task #3: Methods To Math

  • This task is best be completed in groups of 3-4 students. This section is modeled after a POGIL (Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning) experience, which is meant to help students develop their own learning and thinking in small groups, with the teacher acting only as a facilitator.

Task #4: Processing and Analyzing Data

Share with students that now that we’ve figured out the math skills we need to process our data data and we’ve practiced our graph analyzing skills, we are going to process and analyze data on our own. Remind students that in science, there are often hundreds upon hundreds of data points (in this case too!). However, for ease, we’re going to be looking at averages across several data points

  • Assign students into 5 groups based on the berry species and give each group its data set (either printed or on the shared spreadsheet).
  • As students work through the first part of Task 4, they will be completing math calculations. When they are complete, have them submit their data into the YELLOW BOXES ONLY on their species’ tab of the shared spreadsheet. The graphs are programmed to populate automatically as they enter their data.
  • Once student graphs are populated, students will complete the second half of Task 4 on their worksheet (Analysis)


  • Two versions of assessment have been provided: a shorter version, which focuses only on the data processing, and a longer version, which re-asks students some of the key questions that arise during the work


  • For virtual learning, the worksheet has been made into student-facing editable google slides. Students work through the slides alongside you presenting over your presentation software of choice (Zoom, Google Meet, Teams, etc.)
  • If your curriculum requires students to understand how to use data logging/processing software (like the International Baccalaureate curriculum), this lesson could be used to teach students how to use Excel as a calculator and data processor (to create graphs). In this case, you would want to override the equations programmed into the sheet already.
  • For a Chemistry Classroom, this set of tasks might be used to help students think about the process of chemical composition, formulas of hydrates, or both. Follow up lessons would have them apply parts of what they learned from Task #3.
  • For an Earth Science Classroom, this set of tasks can be adjusted to help students focus on the various locations that data is taken (different latitudes and longitudes of the various sites). It may also be useful to use as an introduction or a think-piece on getting students to understand that there are multiple definitions of the seasons: Earth Scientists use the astrological settings of the Earth and the Sun, but Biologists (as well as most people) often use the term more colloquially to recognize weather and/or plant data


Liza Backman, PolarTREC Educator 2021
Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women
Brooklyn, NY
ebackman [at]

Standards Other


Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • LS1.C: Organization for Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms
  • PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter

Science and Engineering Practices

  • Analyzing and Interpreting Data
  • Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking

Cross Cutting Concepts

  • Patterns
  • Scale, Proportion, and Quantity

Polar Literacy Principles

  • Principle #4: The polar regions have productive food webs.
  • Principle #5: The poles are experiencing the effects of climate change at an accelerating rate.
  • Principle #6: Humans are a part of the polar system. The arctic has a rich cultural history and diversity of indigenous peoples.

Common Core Math Standards

  • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.HSA.CED.A.2: Create equations in two or more variables to represent relationships between quantities; graph equations on coordinate axes with labels and scales.
  • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.HSS.IC.A.1: Understand statistics as a process for making inferences about population parameters based on a random sample from that population.
  • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.RP.A.3: Use ratio and rate reasoning to solve real-world and mathematical problems, e.g., by reasoning about tables of equivalent ratios, tape diagrams, double number line diagrams, or equations.

This program is supported by the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed by this program are those of the PIs and coordinating team, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.