A close up of a sensor.

The Environmental Impact from Climate Change

Grade 3 - Grade 4

Introduction

In this lesson, students will expand on their learning from lesson one (Introduction to Nattiit, Ringed Seal)  and build their understanding for how the nattiit are being impacted by climate change and human activity. The students will do a small research project on arctic sea life and create a short podcast presentation for the class. The lesson will conclude with an opportunity to explore solutions to rapid climate change and ocean conservation.

Learning Objectives

  • How climate change is affecting marine mammals and their habitats
  • The environmental impacts on nattiit and also Inuit communities
  • How to work on a team conducting research on a marine mammal and present it to the class

Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit Principles

Note: Sometimes known as IQ principles, or Inuit guiding principles. It should be noted that the spelling of Inuit terms often differs, according to dialectal differences. The concepts remain shared despite spelling differences.  (Tagalik, Shirley. Inuit Princeples of Conservation- Serving Others).

Qanuqtuurunnarniq
(Being resourceful to solve problems) – When hunting seals, they are able to use naluaqtuut (a tool that Inuit hunters use) to get close to the seal. They learned how to use hunting techniques by placing a feather over the seal’s breathing hole.
Avatittinnik Kamatsiarniq
(Promoting environmental stewardship) – Inuit use all the parts of the seal they catch.  The women even make clothes out of the sealskin so nothing is wasted.
Piliriqatigiinniq/Ikajuqtigiinniq
(Working together for a common cause) – The important skills for harvesting and preparing the seal are taught to the younger generation through observation and practice.

Vocabulary

Climate change (silaup asijjiqpallianinga)
Climate change is the long-term change in the average weather patterns that have come to define Earth’s local, regional, and global climates.
Habitat
A habitat is made up of physical factors, such as soil, moisture, light intensity and temperature range.
Environmental impact
Any change to the environment, whether adverse or beneficial, resulting from a facility’s activities, products, or services. In other words, it is the effect that people’s actions have on the environment.
Sila
The environment, the air, the atmosphere and the outdoor environment.
Echolocation
A technique used by many flying animals and marine life to navigate environments where there is not enough visual information. For example: bats use echolocation to fly around in the dark; whales use echolocation to find their way in the blue ocean which may look the same in all directions. Wild life who use echolocation make a sound and then listen to hear the sound reflected back to them.
Sound sensor
The Enviro:bit has a sound sensor built-in. You can measure the level of sound around you.
Noise pollution
Noise pollution is unwanted sounds that are disruptive to the environment and human life.
Sound
Energy that travels in waves through air, water, or other substances, and can be heard.

Materials

  • KWL chart
  • A recording device (for the research project), such as an iPad or laptop or tape recording device. If one cannot be found, then present the project as a “podcast” presentation to the class.
  • Podcasting
  • Podcast Research Activity

Introduction and Know – Want – Learn Exercise

After learning about the nattiq, students will learn more about their environment, the ocean,  and how climate change is affecting it. Before the lesson starts, students will be asked to do another KWL chart jotting down what they know about climate change and what they want to know. A few students will be asked to share what they wrote to the whole class.

​​Engage in class discussion by asking students to raise their hand if they have heard about climate change? Likely, most of the students have heard about it but might not know of its implications on the nattiit and Inuit.

Ask students:

  • K: “What do I already know about climate change?”
  • W: “What do I want to know about climate change?”

Later in the lesson, the students will be asked to fill out the L part of the chart. Sharing what they learned about climate change in this lesson.


Listening Activity – What is Climate Change?

Climate change is happening all around us, all around the world. Climate change is impacting Earth in various ways, but climate change is more than just an environmental issue; it is a human issue. Climate change can look different in different localities. In the Arctic, it looks like premature melting ice and contaminants in the ocean where marine mammals are affected. Because a large part of Inuit diet is marine mammals, such as nattiit, this impacts Inuit livelihood and food source. 

The Ocean

Loss of ice habitat: Nattiit breeding is dependent on the availability of sufficient ice at the correct time of year in areas with sufficient food nearby. As the Arctic ice continues to melt earlier each year, more and more pups may be separated prematurely from their mothers. Both ice and snow must be stable enough in the spring season to successfully complete the six-week period of lactation. If the landfast ice breaks up too soon, pups may be separated prematurely from their mothers, resulting in high pup mortality. 

Spring rains or warm spring temperatures can cause the roofs of lairs to prematurely collapse, leaving nattiit unsheltered and exposed to predators. Insufficient snow at the beginning of the breeding season can have the same effect. 

Nattiit, in some areas, are already showing relatively long-term declines in reproductive rates and pup survival. Kovacs and Lydersen report: “During 2006 and 2007, many of the fjords on the west coast of Svalbard did not freeze for the first time in recorded history. Nattiit reproduction was virtually non-existent in areas where many hundreds of pups are normally born. It is not known if the seals that normally pup in this region established themselves elsewhere early enough to set up territories and build lairs, etc., but it seems highly unlikely.”

Environmental Impacts

Warmer ocean temperatures are likely to make conditions more favourable for nattiit parasites and pathogens. The spread of these organisms is likely to be facilitated by the migration of nattiit as they are forced to seek more stable ice habitats. As Arctic conditions warm, a greatly increased presence of humans in previously inaccessible areas is anticipated. Activities, such as shipping, agriculture, and oil exploration, are predicted to disturb and further degrade habitats and increased fishing in the area may reduce food availability.

Nattiit rely on their ice habitat for numerous reasons. Many of their activities are dictated by the timing of the formation and break-up of the ice sheets. One of the most significant impacts of climate change on nattiit, and in turn Inuit, is the loss of the Arctic sea ice. 

As sea ice recedes, more challenges emerge for Arctic marine species. Less ice means more open water which allows for additional commercial activity in the region. 

Have the students watch/listen to a portion (0:48 – 2:53) of a speech by CanadianInuit activist, Siila Watt-Cloutier, titled “Sheila Watt-Cloutier on Climate Change and Human Rights” to engage in discussion about climate change and the effect on Inuit.

Speech by Siila Watt-Cloutier

After listening to the speech, ask the following questions:

  1. What are their reactions to Siila’s speech?
  2. How is climate change affecting nattiit? 

Reference from IUNC Red List – Ringed Seals


Tech Activity – Noise Pollution Sensor (using V2 micro:bit)

Overview

Using your micro:bit, learn how to measure noise pollution in your environment. Recall in Lesson 1, we discussed IQ principles including Qanuqtururangniq (the ability to be resourceful and innovative to solve problems), Pilimmaksarniq (learning new skills through practice and observation) and Avatimik kamtsiarniq (respectfully caring for animals and the environment). All these IQ principles are important foundations for this activity. Discuss with your class what the following IQ principles mean to them:

  • Qanuqtururangniq (the ability to be resourceful and innovative to solve problems)
  • Pilimmaksarniq (learning new skills through practice and observation)
  • Avatimik kamtsiarniq (respectfully caring for animals and the environment)

If learners are not already familiar with IQ principles, provide definitions for these principles and then discuss what they mean to learners in their own lives. 


Activate Students’ Existing Knowledge

Lead a classroom discussion to uncover what students think might occur if more commercial activity begins in the arctic oceans. See the conversation by discussing what kind of industries might develop, such as:

  • Increased shipping activity
  • Increased oil and gas development

Some of the key outcomes of these industries include:

  • Increased water pollution
  • Increased incidences of oil spills
  • Increased noise pollution
  • Increased collision incidents with animals

Some secondary outcomes may include:

  • More land development required to sustain these industries and their workers
  • Increased pollution in the environment

Viewing Activity – The Impacts of Noise Pollution in the Arctic

Animals, like us, make sounds to communicate with each other. However, they can be disrupted by loud noises that are not part of their natural environment. This is a problem known asnoise pollution. Marine mammals are especially affected by noise pollution because noise is amplified in the water and because many marine animals use sound (echolocation) to communicate, navigate the ocean, and find food.

Watch the following video: Less Noise, more life presented by WWFArticProgramme

After the video concludes, lead a group discussion to consolidate learning. As a class, list out some of the impacts noise pollution has on whale populations. Allow students to add any additional impacts they can think of even if they were not mentioned in the video. Some impacts include disruptions to:

  • Mating habits
  • Navigation (echolocation)
  • Eating habits and food supply
  • Abilities to locate pod members
  • Migratory routes

Sensors Worksheet Activity

Get students to complete the following worksheet.

If learners struggle to think of examples of sensors in technology, you may provide additional examples, such as:

  • Temperature sensors (some cars and vehicles have built-in temperature sensors that can provide the temperature in both the inside and outside of the vehicle.)
  • Sound sensors  (smart assistants like Siri, Alexa, or Google Home, use sound sensors microphones to listen to users.)
  • Light sensors (many computer and TV screens now automatically adjust the brightness and colouration of their screens to respond dynamically to the light they sense in their environment.)

Creating a Sound Meter Activity

Challenge 1

Go to the MakeCode editor and create a new project.

 Close up of New Project Button

Give it a name, such as “Sound Meter”.

“Create a Project” pop up menu with blank section to enter your project’s name

From the LED tab, grab the block that says plot bar graph of 0 up to 0. This block turns the LED display on the micro:bit into a graph that we can use to show information!

LED tab selected with  “plot bar graph of 0 up to 0” block highlighted

Drag the block into the middle of the forever block. The plot bar graph block has two blanks (where the 0s are) that we need to fill in. We need to replace the first 0 with the value that we want to graph, in this case, the sound level.

‘Forever’ Loop with ‘plot bar graph of 0 up to 0’ inside

Open the pink Input tab and find the sound level block at the bottom of the tab.

Input Tab selected with ‘Sound Level’ block highlighted

Drag the sound level block into the first opening in the plot bar graph block.

‘Forever Loop’ with ‘plot bar graph of “Sound Level” up to 0’ inside

The second 0 on the plot bar graph block is the highest value that we expect to graph. If we leave the value set to 0, the micro:bit will automatically choose the best scale to fit on the display screen. However, in this case we know we are looking at sound level and we know the micro:bit measures sound on a scale from 0-255 (where 0 is no sound and 255 is maximum volume), so we can enter 255 as the highest value.

‘Forever Loop’ with ‘plot bar graph of “Sound Level” up to 255’ inside

That’s all the code we need! Here’s what it should look like:

Empty ‘On Start’ block beside a ‘Forever’ loop block with ‘plot bar graph of “Sound Level” up to 255’ inside

Connect your micro:bit to your computer with the USB cord from your kit. Download (flash) your code onto your micro:bit.

Test your code by making sounds and see if the micro:bit measures the noise level and shows the graph on the micro:bit display! Take some time to allow learners to be silly and make lots of noise to test out their graphs before moving on to the next challenge.

Challenge 2

Create a new project.

 Close up of New Project Button

Give your new project a name, such as “Sound Indicator”

“Create a Project” pop up menu with blank section to enter your project’s name

Open the light blue Basic tab and grab the show leds block. This block allows us to turn LEDs on or off individually. 

Basic tab selected with ‘Show LEDs’ block highlighted

Drag the block into the middle of the on start block.

‘On start’ Loop with ‘Show LEDs’ inside

Each of the gray squares on the show leds block represents one LED on the micro:bit display. Gray means the LED is off and white means the LED is on. Try clicking each square to turn on all the LEDs. You can check which LEDs are on or off by looking at the simulator on the left-hand side of your screen.

Micro:Bit with LEDs lit up in the shape of a smile face beside the image of the code ‘On start’ Loop with ‘Show LEDs’ block inside. The ‘Show LEDs’ block has LED squares clicked on in the shape of a smile face

Now open the purple Led tab and click … more to see additional code. Grab the block that says set brightness 255. This block allows us to set the brightness of our LEDs on the micro:bit display. By default, it is set to 255 which is the maximum brightness. Just as we discussed before with the sound levels, micro:bit also measures brightness on a scale from 0-255 (where 0 is no light and 255 is maximum brightness).

More tab selected with ‘Set brightness 255’ block highlighted

Drag the set brightness block into the forever block.

‘Forever’ Loop with ‘Set brightness 255’ block inside

As we did before, open the pink Input tab and find the sound level block at the bottom of the tab.

Input Tab selected with ‘Sound Level’ block highlighted

Drop the sound level block over the “255” in the set brightness block.

‘Forever’ loop with ‘Set brightness to sound level’ block inside

Now the code is complete! Here’s what it should look like:

‘On Start’ Loop with ‘Show LEDs’ block inside with all the LEDs clicked on. Beside it is a ‘Forever’ loop with a  ‘Set brightness ‘Sound Level’ block inside

Finish this activity by turning off all the lights in your classroom before your learners download (flash) their code so that they can really detect changes in brightness on their micro:bits. As before, have learners connect micro:bits to their computer with the USB cord in order to download (flash) the code onto the micro:bit. If possible, play some music on speakers so that learners can all watch their micro:bits light up in unison!

Post Activity Discussion

Part 1 – Innovative Solutions

Discuss how a project like this could be implemented to help mitigate the issue of noise pollution. For example:

  • This project could be installed on a ship and when a certain level of noise is reached, the micro:bit could display a warning, such as: “Slow down!” or “Quiet!”
  • A micro:bit could be placed on a busy road or ice road that travels near or over water Above certain volume levels, it could flash the lights rapidly warning travelers to be quieter

Part 2 – IQ Principles Discussion

Discuss how this project connects to the IQ principles discussed earlier in the lesson.


Podcast Activity

This group activity will require additional class time to complete. The suggested time frame would be over two weeks (one week to compile research and one more week to complete the podcast prep).

Climate change is an ever-changing condition, and because the issues and the impact of climate change will always evolve, students will become researchers themselves (kind of like Enooyaq, the Ph.D. student who spoke in the podcast). In the research project, students will choose another part of marine wildlife  to do research on.

Examples include: Aiviq (Walrus), Iqaluk (Arctic Char), Arviq (Bowhead Whale), Tugaalik (Narwhale), Qinalugaq (Beluga whale). 

Ask students what they need to do in order to be good researchers. Allow for responses as a whole class. If not noted, emphasize the importance of doing research to present information clearly and accurately for everyone to understand and access the research findings.

  • Explain that the class will break into small groups of four or five to conduct research on the topic of rapid climate change, and create a ‘podcast’ report to share with the whole class.
  • A handout will be provided to guide students in their research: 

During week two of the activity, help students record their podcast on a recording device or have their findings written out to be able to present their findings to the class on a “podcast” presentation day. For help in recording a podcast, check this lesson on podcasting.


Activity Adaptation (to group project)

As an adaptation or another option, students can make a poster with all their findings from their research project. The poster must answer all the questions as the podcast would but it would need to be written down and placed on a piece of poster board. The poster must include images of the marine mammal and must be put together in a way that is pleasing to the eye. The poster would need to be presented to the class as the podcast would. 


Conclusion

Students will be asked to complete the ‘L’ part of their KWL by adding a few points about what they learned in this lesson.


Extension Activity – Further Observations

It’s time to take the tech project from this lesson out into the world!

Challenge learners to measure noise levels in their environment, by disconnecting the micro:bit from the computer, and plugging it into the battery pack. Learners may measure sounds around the school, or if possible, take the micro:bits home for a day and observe the noise of their daily life.

Spark interesting observations with the following questions:

  • How noisy is your environment?
  • Where was the loudest sound you observed and what caused it?
  • Where was the quietest sound you observed and what caused it? 
  • Did the time of day affect the amount of noise?
  • Did the weather affect the amount of noise?

IMPORTANT – Micro:bits are not waterproof, so advise learners not to attempt to measure noise levels directly in water.


Resources

  • World Wild Life – Seals
  • Sheila Watt-Cloutier on Climate Change and Human Rights – Video
  • National Geographic – Noise Pollution

Additional Resources

Resources for Group Activity