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Feeling the Heat
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.

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, 4 Cross Cutting Concepts, 3 Science and Engineering Practices
High School: 3 Cross Cutting Concepts, 2 Science and Engineering Practices

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Definition of climate and climatic regions
About Teaching Principle 4
Other materials addressing 4a
Observations are the foundation for understanding the climate system
About Teaching Principle 5
Other materials addressing 5b
Increased extreme weather events due to climate change
About Teaching Principle 7
Other materials addressing 7c

Energy Literacy

Environmental quality is impacted by energy choices.
Other materials addressing:
7.3 Environmental quality.
The energy of a system or object that results in its temperature is called thermal energy.
Other materials addressing:
1.2 Thermal energy.
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

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:2.2 The Living Environment:C) Systems and connections
Other materials addressing:
C) Systems and connections.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:A) Human/environment interactions
Other materials addressing:
A) Human/environment interactions.

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.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 1

MS-ESS2.D1:Weather and climate are influenced by interactions involving sunlight, the ocean, the atmosphere, ice, landforms, and living things. These interactions vary with latitude, altitude, and local and regional geography, all of which can affect oceanic and atmospheric flow patterns.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 4

Energy and Matter, Stability and Change, Patterns, Cause and effect

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

MS-C7.3:Stability might be disturbed either by sudden events or gradual changes that accumulate over time.

MS-C1.3: Patterns can be used to identify cause and effect relationships.

MS-C2.2:Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems.

Science and Engineering Practices: 3

Planning and Carrying Out Investigations, Analyzing and Interpreting Data, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

MS-P3.4:Collect data to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence to answer scientific questions or test design solutions under a range of conditions

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

MS-P6.1:Construct an explanation that includes qualitative or quantitative relationships between variables that predict(s) and/or describe(s) phenomena.

High School

Cross Cutting Concepts: 3

Patterns, Cause and effect, Stability and Change

HS-C1.1:Different patterns may be observed at each of the scales at which a system is studied and can provide evidence for causality in explanations of phenomena

HS-C2.2:Cause and effect relationships can be suggested and predicted for complex natural and human designed systems by examining what is known about smaller scale mechanisms within the system.

HS-C7.1:Much of science deals with constructing explanations of how things change and how they remain stable.

Science and Engineering Practices: 2

Planning and Carrying Out Investigations, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

HS-P3.5:Make directional hypotheses that specify what happens to a dependent variable when an independent variable is manipulated.

HS-P6.1:Make a quantitative and/or qualitative claim regarding the relationship between dependent and independent variables.


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