Students calculate the cost of the energy used to operate a common three-bulb light fixture. They then compare the costs and amount of CO2 produced for similar incandescent and compact fluorescent light bulbs. Students also do a short laboratory activity to visualize why two bulbs, which give off the same amount of light, use different amounts of electrical energy.
In this activity students trace the sources of their electricity, heating and cooling, and other components of their energy use though the use of their family's utility bills and information from utility and government websites.
The heart of this activity is a laboratory investigation that models the production of silicon. The activity is an investigation of silicon: the sources, uses, properties, importance in the fields of photovoltaics (solar cells/renewable energy) and integrated circuits industries, and, to a limited extent, environmental impact of silicon production.
In this hands-on lesson, students measure the effect of distance and inclination on the amount of heat felt by an object and apply this experiment to building an understanding of seasonality. In Part 1, the students set up two thermometers at different distances from a light bulb and record their temperatures to determine how distance from a heat source affects temperature. In Part 2, students construct a device designed to measure the temperature as a function of viewing angle toward the Sun by placing a thermometer inside a black construction paper sleeve, and placing the device at different angles toward the Sun. They then explain how distance and inclination affect heat and identify situations where these concepts apply, such as the seasons on Earth and the NASA Mercury MESSENGER mission.
This video segment describes climate data collection from Greenland ice cores that indicate Earth's climate can change abruptly over a single decade rather than over thousands of years. The narrator describes how Earth has undergone dramatic climate shifts in relatively short spans of time prior to 8000 years ago. The video and accompanying essay provide explanations of the differences between weather and climate and how the climate itself had been unstable in the past, with wide variations in temperature occurring over decadal timescales.
A simple click-through animation from Scripps Institute's Earthguide program breaks the complex topic of the global energy balance into separate concepts. Slides describe the different pathways for incoming and outgoing radiation.
In this activity, students collect data and analyze the cost of using energy in their homes and investigate one method (switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs) of reducing energy use. This activity provides educators and students with the means to connect 'energy use consequences' and 'climate change causes.' Through examining home energy use and calculating both pollution caused by the generation of electricity and potential savings, students can internalize these issues and share information with their families.
In this audio slideshow, an ecologist from the University of Florida describes the radiocarbon dating technique that scientists use to determine the amount of carbon within the permafrost of the Arctic tundra. Understanding the rate of carbon released as permafrost thaws is necessary to understand how this positive feedback mechanism is contributing to climate change that may further increase global surface temperatures.
This in-depth interactive slideshow about how climate models work is embedded with a lot of background information. It also describes some of the projected climate change impacts to key sectors such as water, ecosystems, food, coasts, health. (scroll down page for interactive)