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
Activity takes about two class periods. Additional materials are required.

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Teaching Tips

Teaching Tips

Solar cells might not be readily available but are not an extravagant purchase from a typical science budget.

If the experimental part of the activity takes up too much class time, parts of the activity could be done with online interactives.

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