• Guide to using G-WOW Model
  • Outreach Resources
  • How to create a G-WOW Institute
  • G-WOW News & Opportunities
  • Lesson Plans

Climate change is a complex issue. Scientific research from state, tribal, and federal agencies is available through documents, charts, and tables to document current and projected climate change impacts on global to local levels. However, we often have difficulty interpreting this data, understanding the urgency it suggests, or finding motivation to take action. Something is missing.

Climate change research supports the importance of “local, evidence that you can see, feel, or experience based on what you observe around you. place-based evidence of climate change gained through experiential learning to be as or more effective than simply studying analytical climate change data to increasing climate change literacy” (“The Psychology of Climate Change Communication”, 2009, Columbia University).

G-WOW provides what’s missing in most climate change curricula—the integration of climate change science with Evidence that you can see, feel, or experience based on what you observe around you. place-based evidence of how it is affecting both the environment and people.


G-WOW is a unique approach to making climate change issue "come alive" to encourage action. It is based on a research-based interpretive framework that relates climate change to what we value, reveals different ways of understanding, integrates them into a whole story, and provokes leadership to address this issue.


G-WOW integrates quantitative scientific climate research with qualitative place-based evidence we can observe. What is really unique about the G-WOW model is how it links these two ways of knowing by demonstrating how climate change impacts the sustainability of species and habitats that support cultural, recreational, and economic activities we value. Science-based research provides evidence of how environmental variables, like temperature, may be changing due to climate change thereby affecting habitats species need to thrive and survive. Changes in habitats, species, and activities we value can be observed providing place-based evidence. 

G-WOW uses climate impacts on the Lake Superior Ojibwe Indians to provide baseline for evaluating place-based evidence of climate change. Why?  Because the Ojibwe people have a generations-old relationship to their environment, their “Traditional Knowledge is the total understanding by indigenous people of their relationship to the earth and the universe, and the knowledge inherent within that relationship. This knowledge includes the spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental aspects of a person and related components of the earth and universe to these aspects.”- Stewart Hill, Cree. traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) helps provide long term place-based evidence of climate change that we can use to evaluate if changes we are observing may be caused by climate change or weather variability.

Although this model was developed in Ojibwe Ceded Territory of the Great Lakes, the G-WOW model is transferable to other cultures and locations.

This website and the G-WOW model are designed for middle school to adult users. It uses a multi-disciplinary approach and integrates a variety of subjects including math, science, language arts, social studies, history, civics, and the arts. It offers valuable tools such as critical thinking, respect for all cultures that share our environment, and knowledge you can use to take action within your culture and community to make a difference.

We recommend G-WOW users have a working knowledge of climate change principles before engaging in the G-WOW curriculum. Click on the words “CLIMATE CHANGE” in the center of the G-WOW logo, to learn the basics of climate change.  Need a climate "101" refresher?  Access the Climate Change Core Competency Training Module


Understanding the impact of climate change on cultural, economic, and recreational activities we value requires understanding how climate change may impact the habitat conditions and species that activity depends on. For example, harvesting birch bark relies on the sustainability of paper birch trees. Winter logging depends on a "habitat" of frozen roads. Trout fishing relies on the sustainable populations of brook trout. Snowboarding, skiing, and snowmobiling require reliable snowfall. Even sitting on the front porch needs suitable temperatures to be a pleasant experience. The G-WOW model can be adapted to a variety of activities and locations. 



The G-WOW website investigates climate change through its impacts on traditional Ojibwe cultural practices or “lifeways” that depend on the sustainability of species or “beings” found in the Lake Superior region. The Ojibwe have generations of experience in living with, and using these resources. They have a unique perspective to evaluate how climate change is affecting them and the environment they depend on. Indigenous TEK, as well as language, provides place-based evidence of climate change that goes beyond short term changes that may be caused by weather variability. The changes the Ojibwe people are observing provide long term “place-based” indicators of how climate change can affect all cultures and communities. 

Do culture and science agree that climate change is real? The G-WOW model helps you be the judge!


The G-WOW model and website are based on the following climate change literacy principles:
  • Climate change is real.
  • Human’s contribute to climate change.
  • Weather and climate are different.
  • Climate affects culture.
  • We can make a difference.

Elements of G-WOW model, as applied through this website's learning experiences, (in blue) incorporate scientific method elements while integrating place-based and scientific evidence. The model adds “Taking Action” on knowledge gained by encouraging community-based climate leadership activities.




The G-WOW website is intentionally designed to start with the investigation of climate change through cultural, place-based evidence by entering through the Ojibwe Lifeways section, followed and supported by academic science based research in the Investigate the Science website section.


The Ojibwe Lifeways section features four seasonal units corresponding to traditional Ojibwe lifeways: maple sugaring and birch bark harvesting (spring), fishing (summer), wild rice harvesting (fall), and respecting our culture (winter). Each of these traditional practices depends on the sustainability of a key plant or animal species. An additional unit called "Hear the Water Speak" focuses on climate impacts on water resources.


Each unit is designed to stand alone, but exploring additional units will build climate literacy and broader understanding of climate change and cultural perspectives. 

Each unit features “menus” with additional resources to customize learning experiences through field research, external web-based investigations, and resources within the G-WOW website. Definitions for technical or unfamiliar words highlighted in yellow will open when the cursor is placed over them.



Activity Guides within the units pose critical questions to support learning objectives. Most activities can be completed in 30-minute timeframe.  Additional time will be needed for researching and developing a climate action project and sharing their outcomes.


The website's “What Can We Do” and “Talking Circle” sections promote action on knowledge gained and sharing ideas and outcomes with others. Browse the website's Navigation Bar for additional resources, games, tips, and tools.


Start by moving the cursor over the OJIBWE LIFEWAYS icon in the G-WOW logo. Smaller icons, representing the key species associated with a seasonal cultural “lifeway” will be displayed. Seasonal units are opened by clicking on these icons. The "Hear the Water Speak" unit is accessed by clicking on that section of the G-WOW logo.

The seasonal units within the Ojibwe Lifeways include:

Maple Sugaring and Birch bark Harvesting (spring) Key species: sugar maple and paper birch
Fishing (summer) Key species: cold water fish species such as brook trout, walleye, northern pike, musky
Wild Rice Harvesting (fall) Key species: Wild rice (manoomin)
Respecting Our Culture (winter) Key species: American marten
Hear the Water Speak!  "Nibi" means "water" in the language of the Lake Superior Ojibwe people. Nibi is sacred. Because water connects all things, this unit on water and climate change is accessed by clicking on the Hear the Water Speak circle that connects the G-WOW website. 

Each Ojibwe Lifeways seasonal unit includes learning objectives and background information on the ecology of the key species(s) giving users baseline knowledge to assess the impact of current or predicted climate change stressors on that species. The Connecting With Culture section provides Ojibwe perspectives on the traditional cultural practice and the key species it relies on. A menu of resources offers options for students to investigate Evidence that you can see, feel, or experience based on what you observe around you. place-based evidence of climate change impacts.


Upon completion of this section, the Investigate The Science section may be opened.

The Connecting With Culture Activity Guide is a worksheet that uses the menu of resources to investigate interconnectedness of the cultural practice to the Ojibwe people and the environment and how climate change can affect this relationship. This activity is designed to help users reflect on what this indicates for the environment, economies, and people of different cultures. 

Challenges learners to integrate the place-based knowledge they’ve gained with scientific climate change research. Here you will investigate the implications of current and predicted climate change trends on the sustainability of the unit’s key species. You will be challenged to consider what these changes could mean in the larger environmental and cultural contexts (i.e.) warmer winters cause poor maple syrup production meaning less amounts of maple syrup nationally and reduced profits for maple businesses. 

Using the Investigate the Science Activity Guide, create your own hypothesis of how climate change is impacting the environment, people, and cultures, based on the place-based and scientific climate change evidence they’ve studied. Use this section's menu of experiments and investigations to design and conduct a research project to test your hypothesis. The Climate Science Toolkit provides interactive climate model maps and research from the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts to support your investigations. 

After completing this Activity Guide, you are ready to act on knowledge gained by proceeding to the “What Can We Do?” section.
Provides a template and ideas for taking leadership to address climate change on a community level. You will be encouraged to reflect on and share your activities with others using the Talking Circle feature of the G-WOW website.

Provides G-WOW users an opportunity to reflect on and share climate leadership actions and projects. The Talking Circle also provides examples for others to build on!

More climate change resources, project tips, and tools can be accessed by clicking on the icons within the G-WOW logo and by clicking on the RESOURCES tab in the website's navigation bar.