Unit Outline

Climate Change and the Future of Michigan Cherries

This 4-day unit is designed for high school students who have been introduced to scientific inquiry, energy in ecosystems, and plant structure & function. Use the links to the left to download an introduction and unit overview, as well as a printable guide of the entire unit, its worksheets, handouts, and homework, and a complete copy of slides for the unit. These downloads are also available on a per lesson basis at each of the lesson pages linked below. 


Click each lesson title or use the tabs above to view and download lesson materials.

Lesson 1: The Curious Case of Michigan’s Cherries

Students identify and discuss the importance of Michigan’s cherry harvests in local culture and economy. They also create and examine graphs using historical data to explore the relationship between temperature and cherry bloom dates.

Lesson 2: Intro to Modeling: Graphing and analyzing phenology data

Students explore and define the concept of phenology. They explain how changes in temperature influence cherry tree phenology and the implications this could have on crop success. They add a line of best fit to their graph to create a scientific model, and begin to use their model to predict phenological events based on future temperature scenarios.

Lesson 3: Application: Using climate and phenology data and models to make predictions

Students explore the strengths and limitations of models and update their models by incorporating new data. Students use the models to predict the impact of regional climate change on the Michigan cherry industry. Students learn what techniques are already being used by farmers to mitigate and adapt to the negative impacts a shifting climate has on cherry trees. Students also brainstorm and discuss further solutions to this issue.

Lesson 4: Field Trip: Exploring citizen science and making connections between phenology and ecology

Students experience citizen science with Project Budburst by naming and identifying phenological stages of plants. They explore the importance of citizen science by making connections between the field trip and the work they have been completing in the classroom. They evaluate ways in which climate change and subsequent phenological shifts could affect other species in an ecosystem.

Additional Teacher Resources