Hudson River Estuary Climate Change Lesson Project
Hudson River Estuary - News


The Climate Change Lesson Plans in this series are designed to help middle school students understand climate and weather basics and explore climate change related issues close to home in the Hudson River Valley.  Most of the lessons have been adapted for use from existing peer-reviewed lesson plans; the original source material is credited at the beginning of each.  As the series was not designed as a sequential curriculum unit, each lesson may be used independently.

Whether students are instructed to observe climate changes at nearby Mohonk Preserve or in their own city, look at pollen to learn about the Hudson’s ancient climate or satellite photos of earth from space, each lesson seeks a way to engage students.  Lessons that include an energy walkabout or an oral history of climate change bring in valuable social science components. All the lessons provide teachers with tools to evaluate student work as well as a matrix to show how the content fits into Learning Standards for New York State, Next Generation Learning Standards and the Common Core.

This project was completed thanks to Meghan E. Marrero, Ed.D., Associate Professor of Secondary Education at Mercy College and to Mr. Seth Van Gaasbeek, both educators in our region who spent many hours editing and reviewing the plans and correlating them to learning standards.

Special thanks also go to Steve Stanne, Estuary Education Coordinator, Hudson River Estuary Program, New York State Water Resources Institute/New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for his careful help in selecting, reviewing and editing these plans.

This lesson plan series made its debut during a Fall 2014 workshop for educators about climate change and its impacts. Said Steve Stanne, “Through such programs, Teaching the Hudson Valley and the Estuary Program aim to foster place-based teaching about the Hudson and to fulfill the goals of the Hudson River Estuary Action Plan in promoting conservation and public understanding and enjoyment of the river.”

The Climate Change Lesson Plans are the latest addition to the Estuary program’s educational resources. Additional Hudson River lessons can be found on the Hudson Estuary Program’s Web site.

New York Sea Grant has produced these educational materials in partnership with the New York State Water Resources Institute at Cornell University and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Hudson River Estuary Program with support through the New York State Environmental Protection Fund.

Nordica Holochuck
New York Sea Grant
August 2014

Hudson River Estuary Climate Change Lesson Project: Teacher’s Packet [106 pp.] (pdf)
Grades 5-8


  • Lesson 1: Investigating the Differences Between Climate and Weather (pdf)

  • Lesson 2: Observing Changes at Mohonk Preserve (pdf)

    Related Video: Climate Change at Mohonk: Weather & Species

  • Lesson 3: Climate Change in My City (pdf)

  • Lesson 4: Paleoclimate of the Hudson Valley (pdf)

    Additional Reading: Change in the Hudson River Since 1609 (pdf)

    Additional Reading: Mud Records - New York History (via Lamont-Doherty Earth Observation) (pdf)

  • Lesson 5: Climate Change in Oral History (pdf)

  • Lesson 6: Energy Walkabout (pdf)

  • Lesson 7: Earth’s Albedo (pdf)

  • Lesson 8: Carbon Through the Seasons (pdf)

  • Lesson 9: New York Explores Sea Level Rise - A Field Based Activity (pdf)

Additional Climate Change Education Resources

Climate science can be taught at all grade levels. Listed here are a few of the many internet-based resources available to help you learn and teach about climate change. 

  • Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Learning Network Portal (CLEAN)
    CLEAN is funded by grants from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, (NOAA) the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Energy (DOE). CLEAN presents framework documents for climate and energy awareness and education, peer-reviewed and science content reviewed lesson plans and opportunities for joining this online learning community.

  • The Climate Literacy Framework
    Climate Literacy: The Essential Principles of Climate Science is an interagency guide that provides a framework and essential principles for formal and informal education about climate change.  This guide can be downloaded From the US Global Change Research Council, (USGCRC)

In New York State:

  • The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Climate Change Program

  • Climate Change Program for the Hudson River Estuary
    The Northeast Regional Climate Center (NRCC) is located at Cornell University.
    NRCC serves the 12-state region that includes: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia. The Center's staff works cooperatively with the National Climatic Data Center, the National Weather Service and other interested scientists in the Northeast to acquire and disseminate accurate, up-to-date climate data and information.

  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
    NOAA’s climate education site features four focus areas: carbon cycle, changing seasons, climate change impacts, and climate monitoring.

  • Stanford curriculum
    These are middle and high school curriculum units from Stanford University.  The lesson plans include a variety of both teacher-centered and student-centered activities ranging from lectures based on provided slideshows, teacher-led demonstrations, student-led investigations, and group analysis of data. Underlying these activities is a philosophy of learning by inquiry as well as justifying claims with evidence.

More Information for Teachers and Students:

More Info: New York Sea Grant

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York, is one of 33 university-based programs under the National Sea Grant College Program (NSGCP) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The NSGCP engages this network of the nation’s top universities in conducting scientific research, education, training and extension projects designed to foster science-based decisions about the use and conservation of our aquatic resources. Through its statewide network of integrated services, NYSG has been promoting coastal vitality, environmental sustainability, and citizen awareness about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources since 1971.

For updates on Sea Grant activities: has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube links. NYSG also offers a free e-list sign up via for NY Coastlines, its flagship publication, which, in 2014, merges with the program's e-newsletter, Currents. NY Coastlines is published several times a year.

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