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Could Climate Change Impact the Mosquito-Human Disease Ecosystem?

Grade Range
6th-12th
Group Size
1-2 students
Active Time
2-3 hours
Total Time
2-3 hours
Area of Science
Zoology
Big Data
Key Concepts
Weather, climate, data analysis
Learning Objectives
  • Develop a research-based hypothesis about the effect of climate on mosquito populations.
  • Analyze data and determine whether it supports the hypothesis.
Credits
Ben Finio, PhD, Science Buddies
close up of a mosquito on human skin

Overview

Scientists are concerned that climate change could cause the spread of mosquito populations that carry diseases like malaria, West Nile virus, Zika virus, and dengue fever. In this lesson plan, your students will access real-world data on mosquitoes at different locations throughout the United States, and examine the effects of temperature on mosquito populations.

Remote learning adaptation: This lesson plan can be conducted remotely. Students can work independently on the Explore section of the lesson plan using the Student Worksheet as a guide. The Engage and Reflect sections can either be dropped entirely, done in writing remotely, or be conducted over a video chat.

NGSS Alignment

This lesson helps students prepare for these Next Generation Science Standards Performance Expectations:
  • MS-LS2-4. Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.
  • HS-LS2-1. Use mathematical and/or computational representations of phenomena or design solutions to support explanations of factors that affect carrying capacity of ecosystems at different scales.
This lesson focuses on these aspects of NGSS Three Dimensional Learning:

Science & Engineering Practices Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
Analyzing and Interpreting Data. Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for phenomena.

Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking. Use mathematical and/or computational representations of phenomena or design solutions to support explanations.
LS2.C: Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience. Ecosystems are dynamic in nature; their characteristics can vary over time. Disruptions to any physical or biological component of an ecosystem can lead to shifts in all its populations.

LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystem. Ecosystems have carrying capacities, which are limits to the numbers of organisms and populations they can support. These limits result from such factors as the availability of living and nonliving resources and from such challenges such as predation, competition, and disease. Organisms would have the capacity to produce populations of great size were it not for the fact that environments and resources are finite. This fundamental tension affects the abundance (number of individuals) of species in any given ecosystem.
Cause and Effect. Small changes in one part of a system might cause large changes in another part.

Scale, Proportion, and Quantity. The significance of a phenomenon is dependent on the scale, proportion, and quantity at which it occurs.

Materials

  • Computer with internet access
  • Spreadsheet program

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Grade Range
6th-12th
Group Size
1-2 students
Active Time
2-3 hours
Total Time
2-3 hours
Area of Science
Zoology
Big Data
Key Concepts
Weather, climate, data analysis
Credits
Ben Finio, PhD, Science Buddies
Learning Objectives
  • Develop a research-based hypothesis about the effect of climate on mosquito populations.
  • Analyze data and determine whether it supports the hypothesis.
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