Journal ArticleDigital resources are stored online in your NSTA Library.
Students can gain an appreciation for the structure and function of local environments by studying the potential impacts of small changes in local microclimate on plant distribution. The concept of microclimate is easy for students to comprehend, simple to measure, exists in all schoolyards, and has important and tangible ecological implications. This article discusses an inquiry in which students learn the differences between weather and climate as well as the degree of natural variation in climate that exists across spatial scales. In this activity, students are introduced to the concept of climate and how climate varies. Students also observe and measure variation in microclimate and plant distribution throughout the schoolyard and learn to make associations between the microclimate and plant life.