Data Puzzle Collection

Data Puzzles are all suitable for middle and high school classrooms. Most Data Puzzles require upwards of three 60-minute class periods to complete. Each Data Puzzle is connected to a specific scientist who has contributed their own or related real datasets for the activity.

The Data Puzzle team will be building out even more activities in the near future, so check back often. Are you interested in developing your own Data Puzzle, or is there a particular topic or dataset you'd like to see in a future activity? Let us know! Contact us at Datapuzzles@colorado.edu.

 

Data Puzzle: What's the Limit?

Moss campion

Moss campion is a hearty flowering plant that thrives in harsh arctic and alpine tundra ecosystems over a wide range of latitudes in North America. In this Data Puzzle, students analyze authentic moss campion growth and survival data to construct explanatory models for the following question, "How is the growth and survival of moss campion affected by latitude?" Figure credit: Dan Doak

Scientists: Ecologists Dr. Megan DeMarche (University of Georgia), Dr. Dan Doak (University of Colorado Boulder), and Dr. Bill Morris (Duke University)

Dataset(s): Moss campion growth and survival at different latitudes

NGSS Standards: LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems; ESS2.D: Weather and Climate

Teacher Guide
Slide Deck
Student Worksheet

 

Data Puzzle: Megadrought in the Colorado River Basin

Megadrought

Much of the western United States is experiencing drought conditions. In this Data Puzzle, students analyze authentic climate data to construct explanatory models for the following question, "What is causing the megadrought in the Colorado River Basin?" Figure credit: National Park Service

Scientist: Seth Arens, Utah Research Integration Specialist for the Western Water Assessment 

Dataset(s): Colorado River Basin temperature and precipitation over time

NGSS Standards: ESS2.D: Weather and Climate

Teacher Guide
Slide Deck
Student Worksheet

 

Data Puzzle: Megafire - Rare Occurrences or the New Normal?

Forest fire

Over the past few years there has been a lot of attention in the media given to large wildfires known as, “megafires”. But are megafires a new phenomenon? How and why has the number of megafires changed over time? Figure credit: DMCA

Scientist: Dr. Natasha Stavros, Fire Ecologist at the University of Colorado Boulder

Dataset(s): Megafire frequency over time

NGSS Standards: ESS2.D: Weather and Climate

Teacher Guide
Slide Deck
Student Worksheet

 

Data Puzzle: Balancing Act

Greenland Ice Sheet

The Greenland Ice Sheet has enough ice locked up in it to raise global sea level by many feet. Since the early 2000s, the Greenland Ice Sheet’s mass balance has been consistently negative, meaning more mass is being lost than gained. But this change in mass balance hasn’t always happened at the same rate. What could account for observed changes to the amount of ice in the Greenland Ice Sheet in recent decades? Image credit: NASA

Scientist: Dr. Ruth Mottram, Climate Scientist at the Danish Meteorological Institute

Dataset(s): Greenland Ice Sheet mass balance, Greenland air surface temperatures, Greenland snowfall vs. meltwater runoff

NGSS Standards: ESS2.D: Weather and Climate; ESS3.D Global Climate Change

Teacher Guide
Slide Deck
Student Worksheet

 

Data Puzzle: On a Budget

Global Temperature Anomalies

Rising global temperatures over the past century indicate that Earth’s energy budget is out of balance, with the Arctic heating up at a rate faster than the global average. What can the amount of incoming shortwave and outgoing longwave energy to and from the Arctic tell us about Arctic amplification? Figure credit: NSIDC

Scientist: Dr. Jen Kay, Atmospheric Scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder

Dataset(s): Incoming shortwave radiation (energy from the Sun) and Arctic temperatures over time

NGSS Standards: ESS2.D: Weather and Climate

Teacher Guide
Slide Deck
Student Worksheet

 

Data Puzzle: To Reflect or Not To Reflect

Graph of sea ice over time

The color of Earth's surface determines how much of the Sun's energy is reflected or absorbed, where lighter-colored surfaces are more reflective. How might the Arctic’s albedo be affected by the observed decline in sea ice? Figure credit: NASA

Scientist: Dr. Jen Kay, Atmospheric Scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder

Dataset(s): Albedo and average September sea ice extent in the Arctic over time

NGSS Standards: ESS2.D: Weather and Climate

Teacher Guide
Slide Deck
Student Worksheet

 

Data Puzzle: It's All Connected

Sea ice lead

What makes the Arctic climate system so unique is the sea ice, which influences the Arctic climate in many ways. What effect, if any, do leads (cracks in the sea ice) have on the transfer of moisture between the Arctic ocean and atmosphere? Photo credit: Michael Gutsche, AWI

Scientist: Gina Jozef, Ph.D. student and drone pilot at the University of Colorado Boulder

Dataset(s): Humidity measurements upwind, downwind, and over an Arctic sea ice lead (crack) at various altitudes

NGSS Standards: ESS2.C: The Roles of Water in Earth's Surface Processes; ESS2.D: Weather and Climate

Teacher Guide
Slide Deck

Student Worksheet

 

 

 

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