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Trees, Forests, and Climate Change from MIT's TILclimate

Grade Level Grades 9-12, Higher Education
Resource Type Activity, Handout
Standards Alignment


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Forests are and can be an important part of a lower-carbon future – but how does that work? Students experience the carbon cycle as a carbon atom, grounding their understanding of the flux of carbon between earth, air, water, and living things. Using data from Global Forest Watch, students investigate regional and global patterns of forest loss, gain, and carbon emissions to answer the questions: should we plant trees as a solution to climate change? Does location matter? How do we know?


  • Explain a simple carbon cycle
  • Describe global patterns of forest loss and gain.
  • Understand that deforestation causes carbon dioxide emissions, and that growing forests remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.


  • Graphing
  • Map reading
  • Critical thinking



TILclimate Planting Trees Educator Guide FULL.pdf

October 12, 2021
2.7 MB
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How to Use TILclimate Educator Guides.pdf

October 12, 2021
0.3 MB
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Analyze and interpret data to explore how variations in the flow of energy into and out of Earth’s systems result in changes in atmosphere and climate.
Develop a quantitative model to describe the cycling of carbon among the hydrosphere, atmosphere, geosphere, and biosphere.
Develop a model to illustrate the role of photosynthesis and cellular respiration in the cycling of carbon among the biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere.
Apply the publishing phase of the writing process independently, using a variety of print, non-print, and digital formats.
Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
Resource availability has guided the development of human society and use of natural resources has associated costs, risks, and benefits.
Sustainability of human societies and the biodiversity that supports them requires responsible management of natural resources, including the development of technologies.
Global climate models used to predict changes continue to be improved, although discoveries about the global climate system are ongoing and continually needed.
If a biological or physical disturbance to an ecosystem occurs, including one induced by human activity, the ecosystem may return to its more or less original state or become a very different ecosystem, depending on the complex set of interactions within the ecosystem.


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