Climate Change and the Future of Michigan Cherries


On this site you can access our free 4-day high school unit, its lesson plans, and supplementary teaching materials including slides, worksheets, and homework.

What is Climate Change and the Future of Michigan Cherries?

  • A 4-day high school science unit based on climate science research conducted at the University of Michigan.
  • The unit was made possible through a National Science Foundation grant. 
  • The unit was developed by University of Michigan graduate student Lauren Highleyman, and enhanced by fellow graduate student Katie Torkelson-Regan, under the guidance of Dr. Inés Ibáñez and Dr. Michaela Zint at the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS).

Why use Climate Change and the Future of Michigan Cherries?

This curriculum includes graphing and analyzing real-world data, scientific modelling to form predictions, and a citizen-science based field trip. Each of these components was designed to build student understanding of not only the climate’s impact on Michigan’s agriculture, economy, and citizens, but also their own impact on the climate.

  • Students investigate how Michigan's trees will be altered by climate change by utilizing data from on-going research conducted at the University of Michigan.
  • The unit includes a field trip to a local natural area during which students use Project Budburst to engage in citizen science by collecting data on plant phenology.
  • All lessons were designed to align with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Visit our Standards page for more information.
  • In the Ann Arbor Public School district, this unit aligned best with the end of semester 2, after students have learned about Scientific Inquiry, Evolution, Plant Structure & Function, and Cell Energetics/Matter & Energy in Ecosystems. This unit works well while students are learning about Human Impact on the Environment. Not in AAPS? Reference the unit goals, learning standards, and the information above to determine where it may fit best in your curriculum.
  • To date, the unit has been improved based on feedback from 8 teachers as well as pilot-tests by 3 teachers with approximately 250 students

Unit Goals

  1. Foster understanding of the impacts of climate change, and in particular, its effects on tree flowering phenology
  2. Foster understanding of scientific models that describe and predict the impacts of climate change/global change on trees and plants
  3. Inspire an interest in and foster students’ ability to become Citizen Scientist