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.

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.

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.

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.

This activity teaches students about the albedo of surfaces and how it relates to the ice-albedo feedback effect. During an experiment, students observe the albedo of two different colored surfaces by measuring the temperature change of a white and black surface under a lamp.

This NASA video discusses the impacts of the sun's energy, Earth's reflectance and greenhouse gases on the Earth System.

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.

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.

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.

This brief, hands-on activity illustrates the different heating capacities of soil and water in order to understand why places near the sea have a more moderate climate than those inland.

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