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Weather Stations: Winds

Lunar and Planetary Institute , Universities Space Research Association

Children use a toaster to generate wind and compare the appliance's heat source to Jupiter's own hot interior. They discover that convection drives wind on Jupiter and on Earth.

The duration of this activity is approximately 15-20 minutes. Additional materials are required.

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Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • The toaster used in this activity poses a fire hazard and the appliance will get hot. In addition, the aluminum foil is conductive, but plastic alternatives may melt and paper alternatives pose a fire hazard. Modify this station to serve as a demonstration, if desired. Please use proper caution!
  • Some discussion questions may need to be adapted due to the fact that the Juno Mission has been launched and is currently still orbiting Jupiter (until July 2021 according to NASA).
  • This demonstration is part of a "Weather Station" set, however, it can stand alone.
  • The "My Trip to Jupiter" journal is not required to complete the activity, as there is a link to the relevant handout pages. However, if multiple activities from the series are going to be done the journal may be useful.
  • This activity can very easily be adapted to just focus on Earth, if desired.
  • There are detailed notes to guide the teacher through the activity and discussion.

About the Science

  • During this activity and demonstration students will learn that a make-shift kite hung over a toaster will "fly" due to warm air rising.
  • This is to demonstrate the idea that convection can occur, causing wind when there are temperature differences in the atmosphere. This idea is expanded upon in the activity by relating it back to Earth's atmosphere and then to Jupiter.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • This lesson utilizes different learning styles. It begins with assessing prior knowledge about wind. Students then propose hypotheses about whether or not they think a toaster can create wind.
  • Students create their own kite, and observe what happens when they hold it over a toaster. The lesson ends by drawing larger connections to Earth and Jupiter through discussion questions.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • There is a short video that is helpful to demonstrate the process.
Entered the Collection: August 2020 Last Reviewed: June 2020

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