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.
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 is a classroom activity about the forcing mechanisms for the most recent cold period: the Little Ice Age (1350-1850). Students receive data about tree ring records, solar activity, and volcanic eruptions during this time period. By comparing and contrasting time intervals when tree growth was at a minimum, solar activity was low, and major volcanic eruptions occurred, they draw conclusions about possible natural causes of climate change and identify factors that may indicate climate change.