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Activity 10-1 Feeling the Heat: The Greenhouse Effect

PLAN

Summary Students first construct a physical model of the greenhouse effect. They then use this model to teach the class about this environmental problem.

Objectives

Students:

\checkmark explain how greenhouse gases affect the temperature of the earth, and subsequently, ecosystems of the earth.

\checkmark demonstrate how the greenhouse effect can be modeled and tested.

\checkmark describe how humans might decrease the emission of greenhouse gases.

Student Materials

Per student

  • Activity Report
  • Materials may vary.

Per group

  • Glass bowls or containers of various sizes; Lamp; Dirt; Ice; Water; Colored paper; Thermometer

Teacher Materials

  • Activity Report Answer Key

Advance Preparation

None

Estimated Time

60 minutes

Interdisciplinary Connection

Social Studies Students can discuss the controversial issues surrounding the greenhouse effect and national and international policies.

IMPLEMENT

Introduce Activity 10-1 by asking students where they think the term greenhouse effect came from. Discuss the similarities and differences between farmers' and gardeners' greenhouses and the greenhouse effect.

Step 1 Discuss how the layer of greenhouse gases such as CO_2 in the atmosphere acts like a barrier preventing the loss of heat. Designing a model of the greenhouse effect may be difficult for students at first. But a clear understanding of the greenhouse effect will help.

Step 2 Divide the class into small groups to plan their models. Students can use the glass bowl to represent high levels of greenhouse gases and the lamp to represent the sun. Make sure students first measure the air temperature at a fixed distance from the lamp. Then, with the thermometer at the same distance from the lamp, they should cover the thermometer with the glass bowl and measure the temperature after a few minutes.

Ask students how they could change other parts of their model to see if and how each part affects air temperature. For example, they can add a container of water, with its high heat capacity, to decrease the ambient temperature of the air trapped in the inverted bowl. This models the way the ocean dampens the temperature range in coastal cities. Students could also experiment with different colors of paper to test how different surfaces may affect the air temperature. This models the way surfaces such as asphalt, grass, and snow absorb and reflect energy differently.

Steps 3-4 Give each small group of students an opportunity to plan its presentations and present its results to the class.

Extend Activity 10-1 by:

  • Asking students to refine their physical model of the greenhouse effect. For example, you might ask students to use different layers of glass or different colors of glass to represent the various greenhouse gases-CO_2, O_3, and NH_4. Students could then explore how these different layers or colors affect the temperature in their physical model.
  • Asking students to research one of the greenhouse gases. They should find out what sources emit the greenhouse gas, the effects on global temperature when increased amounts of the gas accumulate in the atmosphere, and some possible ways to reduce emissions of this gas.
  • Asking students to develop an opinion paper or presentation based on the following questions: Should trying to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere be a national priority? Should it be an international priority? What activities in your own life contribute to the problem of global warming? Would you be willing to eliminate those activities?

ASSESS

Use the model, presentation, individual Activity Report, and group discussion to assess if students can

\checkmark explain how greenhouse gases affect the temperature of the earth, and subsequently, ecosystems of the earth.

\checkmark demonstrate how the greenhouse effect can be modeled and tested.

\checkmark describe how humans might decrease the emission of greenhouse gases.

Activity 10-1 Feeling the Heat: The Greenhouse Effect – Activity Report Answer Key

  • Sample answers to these questions will be provided upon request. Please send an email to teachers-requests@ck12.org to request sample answers.
  1. What is the greenhouse effect?
  2. How is the greenhouse effect expected to influence human life? How is it expected to affect the environment?
  3. Describe your physical model of the greenhouse effect. What are the strengths and limitations of your model?
  4. What are ways to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere? Are such steps worth taking? Explain.

Review Questions/Answers

  • Sample answers to these questions will be provided upon request. Please send an email to teachers-requests@ck12.org to request sample answers.
  1. What causes acid rain?
  2. Does acid rain affect only the people who live near its source?
  3. What is global warming?

Activity 10-1 Report Feeling the Heat: The Greenhouse Effect (Student Reproducible)

1. What is the greenhouse effect?

2. How is the greenhouse effect expected to influence human life? How is it expected to affect the environment?

3. Describe your physical model of the greenhouse effect. What are the strengths and limitations of your model?

4. What are ways to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere? Are such steps worth taking? Explain.

Image Attributions

Description

Authors:

Grades:

6 , 7 , 8

Date Created:

Feb 23, 2012

Last Modified:

Apr 29, 2014
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