Lesson Set. Drought: EarthLabs for Educators (Carleton College)

Earth science is emerging as a demanding high-school science course that prepares learners for college admissions and informed citizenship. Earth science classes integrate physics, chemistry, and biology to introduce students to a rich body of concepts and knowledge with which to understand the world around them and pressing environmental, social, and economic issues.

Drought is an ever-present threat to all people whose lifestyles have been built on the availability of water. Across the planet, millions of humans make their homes and grow crops in areas that receive minimal amounts of precipitation. Even a slight decrease in the annual amount of rain in such regions can cause crops, animals, and human populations to suffer.

Students learn that when precipitation drops below normal, drought conditions can develop and economic, environmental, and social impacts can follow. The unit teaches students to interpret climate data to recognize the symptoms and evaluate the severity of drought. It helps them realize that drought can still devastate areas that have stable infrastructure and access to expensive technologies. The unit raises awareness of the need to be prepared to face drought conditions that may become more common as our planet warms.

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