Resource Type
Completion Time
About a week
Middle School and Up
Download, Share, and Remix
McMurdo Station, Antarctica
Denise Hardoy
Related Members
Printouts of Lesson Materials
Video attached to lesson
Tools and Methods
Organisms and Their Environments
Regulation and Behavior
Climate Change


Antarctic ecosystems are undergoing change at unprecedented levels. In this lesson, students will use real data to evaluate the effect of climate change on Antarctic fish. Denise Hardoy created this lesson plan after joining Dr. Anne Todgham’s team studying Antarctic Fish Development Under Future Ocean Conditions in October/November of 2019.


  • Given data sets, graphs, videos, and articles, students will develop a claim, support it with evidence, and explain their reasoning in a well-developed paragraph.
  • Students will evaluate climate change impacts on the fish of Antarctica.

Lesson Preparation

  • Prior to the start of this lesson, students should have a basic understanding of climate change.
  • Teacher should provide a digital or printed copy of the graphic organizer.
  • Students should be sent a copy or given access to the slide presentation.
  • Students should have access to the internet.
  • This lesson could be conducted in person, or during an online video class.



  • Display the CO2 graph for students. Fill in the I Notice/I wonder/This reminds me of… graphic organizer. This can be done for the whole class, in partners, or in a think-pair-share system.
  • Guide students to develop one driving question for the class - Can animals adapt to our changing climate?


  • Using the slide presentation, students build background knowledge by reading about the Ross Sea ecosystem of Antarctica, temperature and carbon dioxide, energy budgets and fish species of McMurdo Sound, Antarctica.
  • Students will watch a video of a polar scientist explain her research.
  • Then students analyze a graph of fish survival rates under future ocean conditions.
  • Lastly, they will collect their own data by watching videos of fish under different conditions. This could also be done as a carousel activity with each group of students assigned to become an expert on that piece of evidence, then share their expertise.

Formative assessment opportunity * Students document evidence on notes - use included graphic organizer (in Materials). * Set up a gallery walk displaying notes. Students can add sticky notes to offer ideas and suggestions. Students should be given time to incorporate ideas. This could also be done digitally using any online collaboration board, such as Jamboard or Padlet. * The teacher should check for understanding of each piece of information.


  • Rubric is handed out and reviewed whole class.
  • Students develop a claim (or choose one if they need scaffolding)
  • Students list their evidence that supports their claim and explain how that evidence supports the claim using the graphic organizer.
  • Final paragraphs could be typed as well.


Students could be given time to conduct additional online research if time allows. Online articles and websites can be referenced to narrow their search. This would also be an opportunity to review how to cite sources.


Students first evaluate their own work using the given rubric. They then trade paragraphs and give each other feedback. Students are given time to incorporate peer suggestions before the final product is turned in.


Developing the ability to think critically and communicate effectively is an essential skill for all learners. Students can use Claim/Evidence/Reasoning in all subjects when asked to provide evidence to support their answers.


Denise Hardoy, PolarTREC Teacher 2019
Vista Verde Middle School
Moreno Valley, CA
dhardoy [at]

Standards Other


MS-LS2-1. Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem. MS-LS2-3. Develop a model to describe the cycling of matter and flow of energy among living and nonliving parts of an ecosystem MS-LS2-4. Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.

Polar Literacy Principles

Principle #5: The Poles are experiencing the effects of climate change at an accelerating rate. 1D: Polar climates create different living conditions. 4B: Sea ice cover, water, and air temperature change with the seasons.

California EP & C-

Principle 2 - People Influence Natural Systems The long-term functioning and health of terrestrial, freshwater, coastal, and marine ecosystems are influenced by their relationships with human societies.

Common Core ELA

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RLI.8.1 Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text. ELA-CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.1 Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence

Attachment Size
Full Lesson37.97 MB 37.97 MB
Lesson Materials218.26 KB 218.26 KB
Slide Presentation37.17 MB 37.17 MB

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.