Mrs. Major's Science Agenda

Unit 3- Solar Energy (Part 2)

ESS2-6 Develop and use a model to describe how unequal heating and rotation of the Earth cause patterns of atmospheric and oceanic circulation that determine regional climates.   

Objective: I will gather data and graph how different earth materials heat up and cool down differently.

Day 1: Thermometer in Sun and Shade 

  • How do thermometers work? How do you hold them? How do you read them?
  • Room temperature challenge: find the hottest spot in the room, the coolest, share findings
  • Prepare journals for data collection: elapsed time/temperature
  • Investigate, calculate temperature changes, report

Days 2-5: Heating Earth Materials

  • What will happen to earth materials when they are placed in the sun? Will the changes be the same in all materials? What will happen in the shade? Will the change be the same in all materials?
  • Groups of 4: sand/water or dry soil/wet soil, cardboard, thermometers with matching numbers
  • Investigate, collect data, share and average the temperature readings (5 minute intervals- read "Differential Heating")
  • Graph the data and analyze the results
  • Journal CCD: elapsed time, earth material, energy transfer, heat sink, solar energy; Cognitive Content Dictionary

Days 6-7 Solar Water Heaters

Objective: I will understand how color and covers affect solar energy absorption. 
  • How do you use hot water? What do you think uses the most water? How is the water heated? How could solar energy be used to heat water?
  • All solar water heaters use some kind of a collector to absorb the sun's energy. What did we use as collectors in the earth materials investigation?
  • Set up collectors using white plastic, black plastic, covers, and no-covers and prepare "Solar Water Heaters" sheet
  • What are our variables? What are your predictions? Justify your reasoning.
  • Record temperatures every 5 minutes for 20 minutes
  • Share data using the "Solar Water Heaters: Conference Chart", find averages (mean) and graph the data


Four Cities Climate Investigation

  • Climate vs. weather 
  • Compare average temperatures and precipitation for Seattle, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Las Vegas to San Diego
  • Draw a horizontal line for the mean high and the mean low
  • Plot the data for the average MONTHLY high and low temperatures for San Diego (how is the average calculated)
  • How does this compare to the daily temperatures in December?
  • When climate scientists want to study the differences in climate between two areas, why do they rely on the mean (average) monthly data rather than the mean daily temperatures?
  • Make two graphs per city, Seattle, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Minneapolis of the following:
    • scatterplots for two different data sets (average monthly high and average monthly low)
    • bar graph showing average precipitation per month for a year
  • Compare scatterplots for Minneapolis, MN and Las Vegas, NV

 Website to find the data for the four cities: NGSS

Solar Houses