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Urban Heat Islands
http://www.windows2universe.org/teacher_resources/teach_heat.html

Lisa Gardiner, Windows to the Universe

In this activity, students learn about the urban heat island effect by investigating which areas of their schoolyard have higher temperatures - trees, grass, asphalt, and other materials. Based on their results, they hypothesize how concentrations of surfaces that absorb heat might affect the temperature in cities - the urban heat island effect. Then they analyze data about the history of Los Angeles heat waves and look for patterns in the Los Angeles climate data and explore patterns.

Activity takes about two 45-min class periods. Additional materials are required.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Climate is determined by the long-term pattern of temperature and precipitation averages and extremes at a location. Climate descriptions can refer to areas that are local, regional, or global in extent. Climate can be described for different time intervals, such as decades, years, seasons, months, or specific dates of the year.
About Teaching Principle 4
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Environmental observations are the foundation for understanding the climate system. From the bottom of the ocean to the surface of the Sun, instruments on weather stations, buoys, satellites, and other platforms collect climate data. To learn about past climates, scientists use natural records, such as tree rings, ice cores, and sedimentary layers. Historical observations, such as native knowledge and personal journals, also document past climate change.
About Teaching Principle 5
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Incidents of extreme weather are projected to increase as a result of climate change. Many locations will see a substantial increase in the number of heat waves they experience per year and a likely decrease in episodes of severe cold. Precipitation events are expected to become less frequent but more intense in many areas, and droughts will be more frequent and severe in areas where average precipitation is projected to decrease.
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Energy Literacy

The energy of a system or object that results in its temperature is called thermal energy.
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1.2 Thermal energy.
Energy is a physical quantity that follows precise natural laws.
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Energy is a physical quantity.
Earth's weather and climate is mostly driven by energy from the Sun.
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2.3 Earth's climate driven by the Sun.
Physical processes on Earth are the result of energy flow through the Earth system.
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Physical processes on Earth are the result of energy flow .

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:A) Processes that shape the Earth
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A) Processes that shape the Earth.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.2 The Living Environment:C) Systems and connections
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C) Systems and connections.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:A) Human/environment interactions
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A) Human/environment interactions.

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks

Scientific investigations usually involve the collection of relevant data, the use of logical reasoning, and the application of imagination in devising hypotheses and explanations to make sense of the collected data.
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The earth has a variety of climates, defined by average temperature, precipitation, humidity, air pressure, and wind, over time in a particular place.
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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

  • Review data collection strategies and behavior before going outside.

About the Science

  • Good use of scientific data in a classroom setting.
  • More information on the science behind why paved areas are hotter is missing and is needed to really foster the understanding and implications.
  • The link between the measurements and heat waves is not strong enough in the exercise and should be emphasized more by the teacher.
  • Reference materials listed.
  • Comments from expert scientist: In terms of microclimates, the activity is very good, with lots of student interaction and physical activities to demonstrate temperature trend and incorporating math and science into the activities.This activity falls well short of demonstrating the urban heat island. The urban heat island is primarily a nighttime phenomena.

About the Pedagogy

  • Nice mix of student-collected data and analysis in a local area to construct hypotheses, followed by a kinesthetic activity to link local findings to larger contexts.
  • No assessment strategies are provided; questions don't really provoke additional curiosity.
  • Handouts available (all of the materials needed for the Los Angeles heat wave analysis are provided).
  • Good description of steps.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • PowerPoint presentation (Feeling the Heat) displays as full screen format after download.

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