Here Comes the Sea: Lesson Plan

Learn about how sea-level rise is affecting the coast of North Carolina, what the predictions are for future sea-level rise, and how coastal communities can take steps to cope with sea-level rise.

UNC-TV Media

Alignment to NC Essential Standards

  • NCES.EEn.2.1.4 — Explain the probability of and preparation for geohazards such as landslides, avalanches, earthquakes and volcanoes in a particular area based on available data.
  • NCES.EEn.2.6.4 — Attribute changes in Earth systems to global climate change (temperature change, changes in pH of ocean, sea level changes, etc.).

Learning Outcomes

  • Students will describe trends in sea-level rise along the North Carolina coast.
  • Students will evaluate options coastal communities have to prepare for sea-level rise.

Essential Questions

  1. What is sea-level rise? How is it measured? 
  2. How will sea-level rise affect North Carolina? 
  3. What can be done to prepare for the effects of sea-level rise?

Essential Vocabulary

  • Sea level
  • Infrastructure
  • Scenario
  • Tidal gauge 
  • Climate change
  • Barrier island
  • Subsidence
  • Greenhouse gas 
  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change


Students will use the NOAA Sea Level Rise Viewer to explore changes to the North Carolina coast resulting from various sea level rise scenarios. Students can zoom in on North Carolina on an interactive map and use a slider bar to change sea level. Tabs allow students to explore flooding frequency and marsh migration.


Students will work independently to gather information about the science of sea-level rise and how sea-level rise affects North Carolina at the following websites:

Students should take notes using cause-and-effect graphic organizers in which text boxes containing causes have arrows to other text boxes containing associated effects. Students should use their graphic organizers to help them prepare their advisory panel in the Evaluate portion of this lesson.


Students will view the NC Science Now video Here Comes The Sea. After viewing the video, students should answer the following questions. They can then discuss their answers with a partner or in small groups.

  1. What are some consequences of sea-level rise? 
  2. How are humans adapting to the rise of sea levels in North Carolina? 
  3. Why is the sea-level rise unequal along the North Carolina coast? 
  4. How might maps of the North Carolina coast look different in the future?


Students will create a model of a barrier island and use it to explore the effects of sea-level rise on barrier islands.


Students will form an advisory panel to assist a coastal area in preparing for the effects of sea-level rise along the North Carolina coast. Using information gathered throughout the lesson and from additional research, students will work collaboratively to prepare and present a panel discussion for the area’s residents. Students must choose one of the following roles:

  • Graphics designer: These students will select and prepare graphics to be used as visual aids during the presentation. 
  • Researcher: These students will conduct additional research into the topic. Students can perform independent research or be provided links such as the ones listed under Additional Resources. 
  • Writer: These students will prepare the main points to be covered during the presentation. 
  • Presenter: These students will integrate the graphics and research to present the information about sea-level change and ways to prepare for it.

Additional Resources: