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In this hands-on activity, students explore whether rooftop gardens are a viable option for combating the urban heat island effect. The guiding question is: Can rooftop gardens reduce the temperature inside and outside of houses?

Activity takes about 2 hours with extra time for students to gather materials and develop design plans. Additional materials are necessary.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Activity supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 4 Performance Expectations, 5 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 7 Cross Cutting Concepts, 11 Science and Engineering Practices
High School: 2 Performance Expectations, 3 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 5 Cross Cutting Concepts, 12 Science and Engineering Practices

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

About the Science

  • Introductory material of the resource at https://www.teachengineering.org/lessons/view/cub_rooftop_lesson01 provides a brief overview of heat transfer and the urban heat island effect, and why plants can reduce the urban heat island effect.
  • Comments from expert scientist:
    Scientific strengths:
    - collecting data
    - analyzing data (max, mins, trends)
    - plotting data on X-Y line graph
    - testing the scientific method
    - budgeting for the project

    Suggestions:
    - I'd love to see the photosynthesis equation somewhere

About the Pedagogy

  • Activity is very well organized and supported pedagogically; builds students' problem-solving skills through an inquiry-driven activity.
  • Students work in groups to design and construct two buildings - one with a model rooftop garden and the other with a normal tar-paper roof. Students then compare the differences in ambient and inside-building temperatures between the two. As such, this activity will engage students and also help them better understand parts of the scientific process.
  • Vocab/definitions very good; very good applicable PowerPoint presentation in linked "Ecology at Work" lesson.
  • Combines engineering, energy, and climate.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Many of the materials can be obtained from a home and garden store easily for minimal expense, or potentially donated.
  • Optional pre/post Rooftop Gardens Quiz can be found in the Ecology at Work lesson.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:


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