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.
This is a photo essay linked to a New York Times story about climate-related stressors on forests -- including mountain pine beetles, forest fires, forest clearance, and ice storms -- and the importance of protecting forests as an important carbon sink.
This video from a 2005 NOVA program features scientists who study how the Jakobshavn Isbrae glacier in western Greenland is shrinking and moving faster due to increased melting over the past ten years. The video includes footage of scientists in the field explaining methods and animation of ice sheet dynamics leading to faster glacier movement.
This is a long-term inquiry activity in which students investigate locations they believe harbor cellulose-digesting microbes, collect samples, isolate them on selective media, and screen them for cellulase activity. These novel microbes may be useful for the production of cellulosic ethanol. In the process they learn about plating techniques, serial dilutions, symbiotic relationships and enzyme specificity. Two methods are provided, one focusing on isolation of pure microbial strains, the other focusing on finding symbiotic communities of microbes.
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.
This video features University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher John Magnuson, who studies the ecology of freshwater systems. He explains the difference between weather and climate using data on ice cover from Lake Mendota in Madison, WI. Analysis of the data indicates a long-term trend that can be connected to climate change.
This short cartoon video uses a simple baseball analogy (steroid use increases probability of hitting home runs) to explain how small increases in greenhouse gases can cause global temperature changes and increase the probability of extreme weather events.