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My Angle on Cooling: Effects of Distance and Inclination
http://sciencenetlinks.com/lessons/my-angle-on-cooling-effects-of-distance-and-inclination/

AAAS Science NetLinks, Science NetLinks, AAAS

In this hands-on lesson, students measure the effect of distance and inclination on the amount of heat felt by an object and apply this experiment to building an understanding of seasonality. In Part 1, the students set up two thermometers at different distances from a light bulb and record their temperatures to determine how distance from a heat source affects temperature. In Part 2, students construct a device designed to measure the temperature as a function of viewing angle toward the Sun by placing a thermometer inside a black construction paper sleeve, and placing the device at different angles toward the Sun. They then explain how distance and inclination affect heat and identify situations where these concepts apply, such as the seasons on Earth and the NASA Mercury MESSENGER mission.

Activity takes about one to two 45-minute class periods. This activity requires additional materials.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Activity supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 1 Disciplinary Core Idea, 5 Cross Cutting Concepts, 9 Science and Engineering Practices

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Axial tilt of Earth governs incoming sunlight and seasonality
About Teaching Principle 1
Other materials addressing 1c
Sunlight warms the planet
About Teaching Principle 1
Other materials addressing 1a

Energy Literacy

The energy of a system or object that results in its temperature is called thermal energy.
Other materials addressing:
1.2 Thermal energy.
Sunlight, gravitational potential, decay of radioactive isotopes, and rotation of the Earth are the major sources of energy driving physical processes on Earth.
Other materials addressing:
2.2 Sources of energy on Earth.
Earth's weather and climate is mostly driven by energy from the Sun.
Other materials addressing:
2.3 Earth's climate driven by the Sun.

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:C) Collecting information
Other materials addressing:
C) Collecting information.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:A) Processes that shape the Earth
Other materials addressing:
A) Processes that shape the Earth.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:C) Energy
Other materials addressing:
C) Energy.

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Remember that students often do not use measuring instruments without prompting.

About the Science

  • Activity takes two simple types of measurements and shows how they are important to both Earth's seasons and to the technical challenges for the MESSENGER mission to Mercury.
  • While the experiments themselves are quite simple and well described, the extrapolations to Earth's seasons and the Mercury MESSENGER mission may prove a rewarding challenge to both educators and students.
  • Since the MESSENGER spacecraft began orbiting Mercury in March 2011, this lesson could be related quite nicely to coverage of that event.

About the Pedagogy

  • Thorough content piece for educators.
  • A group investigation that allows for a differentiation of student roles - Time Keeper, Temperature Monitor, and Recorder.
  • Some important mechanical skills are needed to understand and set up the apparatus and consider the design challenges for the Mercury MESSENGER mission.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Complete, ready-to-use, clearly presented activity.
  • Most of the materials are basic, although not always available in a typical classroom. Assembling the materials and set up for all teams might consume some time.
  • Educators have to download a number of materials like worksheets, etc.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 1

MS-ESS1.B2:This model of the solar system can explain eclipses of the sun and the moon. Earth’s spin axis is fixed in direction over the short-term but tilted relative to its orbit around the sun. The seasons are a result of that tilt and are caused by the differential intensity of sunlight on different areas of Earth across the year.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 5

Systems and System Models, Energy and Matter, Patterns, Cause and effect, Scale, Proportion and Quantity

MS-C1.2: Patterns in rates of change and other numerical relationships can provide information about natural and human designed systems

MS-C2.1:Relationships can be classified as causal or correlational, and correlation does not necessarily imply causation.

MS-C3.1:Time, space, and energy phenomena can be observed at various scales using models to study systems that are too large or too small.

MS-C4.2: Models can be used to represent systems and their interactions—such as inputs, processes and outputs—and energy, matter, and information flows within systems.

MS-C5.3:Energy may take different forms (e.g. energy in fields, thermal energy, energy of motion).

Science and Engineering Practices: 9

Developing and Using Models, Planning and Carrying Out Investigations, Analyzing and Interpreting Data, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, Engaging in Argument from Evidence, Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information, Asking Questions and Defining Problems

MS-P1.3:Ask questions to determine relationships between independent and dependent variables and relationships in models.

MS-P2.7:Develop and/or use a model to generate data to test ideas about phenomena in natural or designed systems, including those representing inputs and outputs, and those at unobservable scales.

MS-P3.1:Plan an investigation individually and collaboratively, and in the design: identify independent and dependent variables and controls, what tools are needed to do the gathering, how measurements will be recorded, and how many data are needed to support a claim.

MS-P3.2:Conduct an investigation and/or evaluate and/or revise the experimental design to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence that meet the goals of the investigation

MS-P4.1:Construct, analyze, and/or interpret graphical displays of data and/or large data sets to identify linear and nonlinear relationships.

MS-P4.3: Distinguish between causal and correlational relationships in data.

MS-P6.3:Construct a scientific explanation based on valid and reliable evidence obtained from sources (including the students’ own experiments) and the assumption that theories and laws that describe the natural world operate today as they did in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

MS-P7.3:Construct, use, and/or present an oral and written argument supported by empirical evidence and scientific reasoning to support or refute an explanation or a model for a phenomenon or a solution to a problem.

MS-P8.4:Evaluate data, hypotheses, and/or conclusions in scientific and technical texts in light of competing information or accounts.


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