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Flashlights on Earth
http://www.andrill.org/education/elf_activities_1A.html

Environmental Literacy Framework, Andrill

This three-part, hands-on investigation explores how sunlight's angle of incidence at Earth’s surface impacts the amount of solar radiation received in a given area. The activity is supported by PowerPoint slides and background information.

The activity takes two class periods: one to set up and one to conduct the experiments. The activity requires access to a globe, flashlights, and batteries.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Activity supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 2 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 6 Cross Cutting Concepts, 6 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

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.

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

  • Students should be divided into groups to build the lab materials ahead of time and then explore the inquiry.
  • PowerPoint slides could be shown after the experiment to clarify misunderstandings and solidify conceptual understanding of higher level content.

About the Science

  • The three activities explore the angle and intensity of incident sunlight across different latitudes.
  • Solar Insolation images are outdated (1984-1993). Though these images are still valid, it would be preferable to use data that is more recent, if available.
  • The activity is a great precursor before or refresher after introducing the concept of the seasons.
  • Comments from expert scientist: The activity presents a very useful way of explaining general climatological differences on the planet.

About the Pedagogy

  • The design of the activity is carefully done with lots of images and photos. Supporting background information is available for the teacher, as well as a short glossary and a PowerPoint file.
  • The activity is intended to be used at different stations and allow students to explore the questions themselves by following the different interconnected parts.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Activity is available as downloadable pdf.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 2

MS-ESS1.A1:Patterns of the apparent motion of the sun, the moon, and stars in the sky can be observed, described, predicted, and explained with models.

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: 6

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

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

MS-C1.4:Graphs, charts, and images can be used to identify patterns in data.

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

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: 6

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

MS-P1.1:Ask questions that arise from careful observation of phenomena, models, or unexpected results, to clarify and/or seek additional information.

MS-P2.5:Develop and/or use a model to predict and/or describe phenomena.

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-P4.2:Use graphical displays (e.g., maps, charts, graphs, and/or tables) of large data sets to identify temporal and spatial relationships.

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

MS-P8.1:Critically read scientific texts adapted for classroom use to determine the central ideas and/or obtain scientific and/or technical information to describe patterns in and/or evidence about the natural and designed world(s).


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