a. Sunlight reaching Earth can heat the land, ocean, and atmosphere. Some of that sunlight is reflected back to space by the surface, clouds, or ice. Much of the sunlight that reaches Earth is absorbed and warms the planet.

Students investigate passive solar building design with a focus on heating. Insulation, window placement, thermal mass, surface colors, and site orientation are addressed in the background materials and design preparation. Students test their projects for thermal gains and losses during a simulated day and night then compare designs with other teams for suggestions for improvements.

Student teams design and build solar water heating devices that mimic those used in residences to capture energy in the form of solar radiation and convert it to thermal energy. In this activity, students gain a better understanding of the three different types of heat transfer, each of which plays a role in the solar water heater design. Once the model devices are constructed, students perform efficiency calculations and compare designs.

In this mock mission, students become members of a research team and conduct a series of tasks to audit Earth's radiative budget. They use a Java Applet/visual viewer to access satellite data sets, calculate the balance of incoming and outgoing solar radiation, and defend their answers to a number of science questions.

This activity introduces students to different forms of energy, energy transformations, energy storage, and the flow of energy through systems. Students learn that most energy can be traced back to nuclear fusion on the sun.

This activity introduces students to the process of converting sunlight into electricity through the use of photovoltaics (solar cells). Students complete a reading passage with questions and an inquiry lab using small photovoltaic cells.

This activity engages learners in exploring the impact of climate change on arctic sea ice in the Bering Sea. They graph and analyze sea ice extent data, conduct a lab on thermal expansion of water, and then observe how a scientist collects long-term data on a bird population.

The purpose of this activity is to identify global patterns and connections in environmental data contained in the GLOBE Earth Systems Poster, to connect observations made within the Earth Systems Poster to data and information at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, and to understand the connections between solar energy and changes at the poles, including feedback related to albedo.

In this extensive activity students estimate the energy output of the Sun by doing a simple experiment and discover how much energy sunlight provides to Earth and the role of the Sun in the Earth System. Students also evaluate the power of sunlight closer to the Sun, at the distance of Mercury, since the activity was developed in support of the NASA Mercury Messenger program.

This lesson is a lab in which students use thermometers, white and dark paper, and lamps to measure differences in albedo between the light and dark materials. Connections are made to albedo in Antarctica.

This activity features video segments from a 2007 PBS program on solar energy. Students follow a seven-step invention process to design, build, and test a solar cooker that will pasteurize water. In addition, they are asked to describe how transmission, absorption, and reflection are used in a solar cooker to heat water and to evaluate what variables contribute to a successful cooker.


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