This module is intended for students in grades 9-12, and has aspects that relate to ecology, scientific investigation, and mathematics (statistics in particular).
The biological context is climate and phenology (or the timing of life history events). Patterns of weather and climate are discussed, and provide part of the motivation for the exercises. However, a detailed understanding of climate is not necessary. There are a number of meteorological websites which can serve as introductions. We have not presented a list of them here -- because they vary greatly in the educational level to which they are targeted and should be chosen with a particular class in mind.
Ultimately, the goal of this module is two-fold: students should gain an appreciation for how non-human organisms can be affected by subtle variations in weather, and students should gain some practice in handling data, graphing data, and drawing inferences from a statistical analysis. Global climate change is not addressed directly in this module, but there are questions that relate to it (thus a lesson on climate change would be a good backdrop to this module).
The statistics used are simple (linear regression), but may require some extra preparation outside of the material presented here. However, the text of the module stands alone, and can be done effectively with no previous introduction to statistical analysis of any kind. As with climate change, there are many websites with introductions to statistics (and regression in particular) -- searching with the keywords "regression" and "introduction" will find many of these, and a site appropriate to a particular class could be chosen.
The three activities in this module are essentially a recreation of part of a scientific paper. The module makes only passing reference to the paper. But a link is provided here to a pdf of that paper, which might be assigned as reading to more advanced students:
Forister - Butterfly Paper
Note: This paper is also found in the bibliography section of this website