Lesson Plans

Analyzing Data for My Location


The Earth System Data Explorer provides mapped data for a variety of variables. Select a variable, produce a map and use the Data Literacy Cubes from My NASA Data to analyze the map.

In this lesson, students will focus on one image.

This lesson has been adapted and modified from the GLOBE Earth System Poster Learning Activities.

Materials Required



  1. Use the Earth System Data Explorer to select a variable and produce a map.

  1. View the introductory video.
    1. The first three minutes and eighteen seconds of the tutorial video explains how to use the Earth System Data Explorer to create a map.
    2. Print copies of the map for each group of students, or instruct them on how to pull the map up themselves.
  2. Print one Data Literacy cube template for each group.
  3. There are four different map question sheets.
    • Question Sheets are leveled for both Lexile and English-language proficiencies. 
    • The leveled question sheets contain labeled (bottom left) and unlabeled versions for you to use at your discretion to help you differentiate your instruction.
    • Note: The Lexile range provided on each question sheet represents the text’s difficulty. 
    • The students’ reading comprehension levels should be taken into account when selecting the appropriate question sheet.
    • Regardless of level, the students in each group will be able to follow along, because the cube has the same six set of question categories: Examine, Search and Find, Analyze, Ask, Connect, and Assess.
    • Some of the question sheets include sentence stems to help struggling readers/writers participate in responding to the questions.

Part I. Using the Cube:

  1. Divide the class into small groups. It is best to not have more than 6 students per group/team. 
  2. Distribute: 
    • Map question sheets (for each student)
    • One cube for each group
    • Maps
  3. Optional: Use the task card to assign their roles (project manager, data manager, chief engineer, and communications manager). Be creative and assign other roles! 
  4. Assign a person in each group to roll the cube.
  5. In their groups, they will answer questions 1–6 on the map question sheet.

Part II. Close Lesson

  1. To wrap up the activity, use 3-2-1 to check for comprehension.  Ask students to answer the 3-2-1 Prompt.
    • Three things that they have learned from analyzing the map.
    • Two questions that they still have.
    • One thing they would share about the map.

The learners will be able to:

  • Discover, analyze, and interpret patterns in a graphic display of data
  • Conduct an analysis of mapped data
  • Develop descriptions and explanations using evidence
  • What information do maps give us so that we can analyze and interpret them?

The processes comprising the Earth’s environment are interconnected. Understanding how these connections operate on a global scale is to understand the Earth as a system. Understanding the Earth as a system requires a quantitative exploration of the connections among various parts of the system. These processes take place in and between the atmosphere, oceans, fresh water, ice, soil, and living components. These processes also include energy from the Sun, and the gases and particles that enter the atmosphere and oceans from both natural and anthropogenic, or human-caused, sources. The activities in this guide will help students understand variations in environmental parameters by examining connections among different phenomena measured on local, regional and global scales. As students look at the connections between environmental data, they will see that the environment is the result of the interplay among many processes that take place on varying time and spatial scales. They will also understand that environmental processes are not bound by oceans, mountains, or country delineations–they are truly global in scope. 

Source: The GLOBE Earth System Poster Learning Activities.

Students need to be familiar with longitude and latitude, as well as familiarity with qualitative and quantitative observations. 

Studying how Earth’s systems interact is as important as studying the individual systems. NASA and its international partners operate several Earth-observing satellites, collectively called the A-Train, that closely follow one after another along the same orbital track. The near-simultaneous observations of a wide variety of factors help the scientific community advance our knowledge of Earth-system science and apply this knowledge for the benefit of society. Source: NASA 60 Years and Counting.

You can use the Data Cube Question Sheets as an extension or additional support for your students. If using the Data Question sheet, omit using question number 6.   Use the data sheets as you see suitable for your class.

  • Standalone Lesson (no technology required)
  • Internet Required

Not finding what you are looking for?