The Earth's Heat Budget

Hands-on laboratory activity that allows students to investigate the effects of distance and angle on the input of solar radiation at Earth's surface, the role played by albedo, the heat capacity of land and water, and how these cause the seasons. Students predict radiative heating based on simple geometry and experiment to test their hypotheses.

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Roy Plotnick
National Association of Geoscience Teachers

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Teaching Tips

Teaching Tips

Educator might want to change the reference to Chicago to the location of the school. This would require creating a new version of both the Powerpoint and the student activity sheet.

Clarify the geometric relation between latitude and the noon sun angle.

Assessment is suggested, but it would benefit from a few more questions that engage students in abstracting from the activity and doing independent thinking.

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