Human Energy Systems | Activity 1.3

Target Student Performance

Students use data on Arctic sea ice to construct graphs showing patterns in changing coverage over time.

Resources You Provide

  • pencil (1 per student)

Resources Provided


Print one copy of the 1.3 Graphing Arctic Sea Ice Worksheet for each student. Prepare a computer and projector to display the PPT. If you plan on having students retrieve data themselves, prepare a computer with an Internet connection for each student or pair of students.


1. Use the instructional model to show students where they are in the course of the unit.

Show slide 2 of the 1.3 Graphing Arctic Sea Ice PPT.


Look at students’ arctic sea ice graphs before the next activity. Note the axis titles chosen by the students and use this to gauge how well they understand the information in the graph. Use the 1.3 Grading the Graphing Arctic Sea Ice Worksheet for a model version of the graph. If students had trouble constructing the graph you may need to revisit this activity before moving on.


Have students practice inputting one data point into the graph as a group and let them ask clarifying questions before completing the entire graph.

  • Have students work independently on plotting data points on individual graphs.
  • Have the x-axis and y-axis already pre-labeled for students.
  • Provide a handout of the data from the website.
  • Provide sample pre-plotted data points on the graph to help get students started.
Extending the Learning
  • Assign students an independent or group research project to research patterns in arctic or Antarctic ice prior to 1979.
  • Have students use the same website to graph the data from Antarctica.