https://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/complexsystems/activities/energy_balance_model.html

*Kirsten Menking, Vassar College , Kirsten Menking, On the Cutting Edge/SERC*

*Activity takes about two lab periods plus homework assignment. Access to STELLA modeling software is required, but a free trial version is available.*

See how this Activity supports the Next Generation Science Standards»

**High School:**1 Performance Expectation, 3 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 8 Cross Cutting Concepts, 8 Science and Engineering Practices

### Topics

### Grade Level

### Climate Literacy

About Teaching Climate Literacy

About Teaching Climate Literacy

Other materials addressing Sun is primary energy

About Teaching Climate Literacy

Other materials addressing Our understanding of climate

### Energy Literacy

*1.1 Energy is a quantity*.

*2.3 Earth's climate driven by the Sun*.

### Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

Other materials addressing:

*G) Drawing conclusions and developing explanations*.

Other materials addressing:

*B) Designing investigations*.

Other materials addressing:

*C) Collecting information*.

Other materials addressing:

*F) Working with models and simulations*.

Other materials addressing:

*A) Processes that shape the Earth*.

Other materials addressing:

*C) Energy*.

## Notes From Our Reviewers
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Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy |
Technical Details

### Teaching Tips

- This is an upper-level activity. As such, it requires some prerequisite knowledge of modeling. Familiarity with STELLA modeling software would also be helpful.

### About the Science

- Background readings for students are not available in digital form, but the reference is provided.
- Step-by-step instructions will help students learn about the dynamics of the atmosphere and appreciate the complexity of Earth's energy balance.
- Comment from expert scientist: The main strength is in starting with a highly idealized system and then incrementally adding complexity towards a model that looks more like the real world. This stepwise process will enable students to grasp the basics and then to understand the roles of additional processes in Earth's energy budget.

### About the Pedagogy

- Use of STELLA model is engaging for students. Students need to be savvy in modeling in order to complete this activity.
- Grouping students with different knowledge of modeling together will likely help the students with less familiarity to complete the activity.
- Students need to have sufficient quantitative skills to be able to master this activity.

**This resource engages students in using scientific data.**

See other data-rich activities

### Technical Details/Ease of Use

- STELLA software full license can be pricey but a free trial version is available.
- Students work with STELLA box modeling software - no instructions to using the software are included in the activity but can be found here: http://www.iseesystems.com/softwares/Education/StellaSoftware.aspx

### Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:

### High School

#### Performance Expectations: 1

HS-PS3-1: Create a computational model to calculate the change in the energy of one component in a system when the change in energy of the other component(s) and energy flows in and out of the system are known.

#### Disciplinary Core Ideas: 3

HS-ESS2.D1:The foundation for Earth’s global climate systems is the electromagnetic radiation from the sun, as well as its reflection, absorption, storage, and redistribution among the atmosphere, ocean, and land systems, and this energy’s re-radiation into space.

HS-PS3.B2:Energy cannot be created or destroyed, but it can be transported from one place to another and transferred between systems

HS-PS4.B2:When light or longer wavelength electromagnetic radiation is absorbed in matter, it is generally converted into thermal energy (heat). Shorter wavelength electromagnetic radiation (ultraviolet, X-rays, gamma rays) can ionize atoms and cause damage to living cells

#### Cross Cutting Concepts: 8

HS-C1.4:Mathematical representations are needed to identify some patterns

HS-C2.4:Changes in systems may have various causes that may not have equal effects.

HS-C3.5:Algebraic thinking is used to examine scientific data and predict the effect of a change in one variable on another (e.g., linear growth vs. exponential growth).

HS-C4.2:When investigating or describing a system, the boundaries and initial conditions of the system need to be defined and their inputs and outputs analyzed and described using models.

HS-C4.3:Models (e.g., physical, mathematical, computer models) can be used to simulate systems and interactions—including energy, matter, and information flows—within and between systems at different scales.

HS-C5.2:Changes of energy and matter in a system can be described in terms of energy and matter flows into, out of, and within that system.

HS-C5.3:Energy cannot be created or destroyed—only moves between one place and another place, between objects and/or fields, or between systems.

HS-C7.3:Feedback (negative or positive) can stabilize or destabilize a system.

#### Science and Engineering Practices: 8

HS-P1.2:ask questions that arise from examining models or a theory, to clarify and/or seek additional information and relationships.

HS-P2.6:Develop and/or use a model (including mathematical and computational) to generate data to support explanations, predict phenomena, analyze systems, and/or solve problems.

HS-P3.1:Plan an investigation or test a design individually and collaboratively to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence as part of building and revising models, supporting explanations for phenomena, or testing solutions to problems. Consider possible confounding variables or effects and evaluate the investigation’s design to ensure variables are controlled.

HS-P4.1:Analyze data using tools, technologies, and/or models (e.g., computational, mathematical) in order to make valid and reliable scientific claims or determine an optimal design solution.

HS-P5.4:Use simple limit cases to test mathematical expressions, computer programs, algorithms, or simulations of a process or system to see if a model “makes sense” by comparing the outcomes with what is known about the real world.

HS-P6.4:Apply scientific reasoning, theory, and/or models to link evidence to the claims to assess the extent to which the reasoning and data support the explanation or conclusion.

HS-P8.2:Compare, integrate and evaluate sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a scientific question or solve a problem.

HS-P8.5:Communicate scientific and/or technical information or ideas (e.g. about phenomena and/or the process of development and the design and performance of a proposed process or system) in multiple formats (i.e., orally, graphically, textually, mathematically).