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My Angle on Cooling: Effects of Distance and Inclination
http://sciencenetlinks.com/lessons/my-angle-on-cooling-effects-of-distance-and-inclination/

AAAS Science NetLinks, Science NetLinks, AAAS

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.

Activity takes about one to two 45-minute class periods. This activity requires additional materials.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

The tilt of Earth’s axis relative to its orbit around the Sun results in predictable changes in the duration of daylight and the amount of sunlight received at any latitude throughout a year. These changes cause the annual cycle of seasons and associated temperature changes.
About Teaching Principle 1
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Sunlight reaching the Earth can heat the land, ocean, and atmosphere. Some of that sunlight is reflected back to space by the surface, clouds, or ice. Much of the sunlight that reaches Earth is absorbed and warms the planet.
About Teaching Principle 1
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Energy Literacy

Sunlight, gravitational potential, decay of radioactive isotopes, and rotation of the Earth are the major sources of energy driving physical processes on Earth.
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2.2 Sources of energy on Earth.
Earth's weather and climate is mostly driven by energy from the Sun.
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2.3 Earth's climate driven by the Sun.
Physical processes on Earth are the result of energy flow through the Earth system.
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Physical processes on Earth are the result of energy flow .

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:C) Collecting information
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C) Collecting information.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:A) Processes that shape the Earth
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A) Processes that shape the Earth.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:C) Energy
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C) Energy.

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks

Because the earth turns daily on an axis that is tilted relative to the plane of the earth's yearly orbit around the sun, sunlight falls more intensely on different parts of the earth during the year. The difference in intensity of sunlight and the resulting warming of the earth's surface produces the seasonal variations in temperature.
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Light and other electromagnetic waves can warm objects. How much an object's temperature increases depends on how intense the light striking its surface is, how long the light shines on the object, and how much of the light is absorbed.
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Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Remember that students often do not use measuring instruments without prompting.

About the Science

  • Activity takes two simple types of measurements and shows how they are important to both Earth's seasons and to the technical challenges for the Messenger mission to Mercury.
  • While the experiments themselves are quite simple and well described, the extrapolations to Earth's seasons and the Mercury MESSENGER mission may prove a rewarding challenge to both educators and students.
  • Since the Messenger spacecraft began orbiting Mercury in March 2011, this lesson could be related quite nicely to coverage of that event.

About the Pedagogy

  • Thorough content piece for educators.
  • A group investigation that allows for a differentiation of student roles - Time Keeper, Temperature Monitor, and Recorder.
  • Some important mechanical skills are needed to understand and set up the apparatus and consider the design challenges for the Mercury MESSENGER mission.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Complete, ready-to-use, clearly presented activity.
  • Most of the materials are basic, although not always available in a typical classroom. Assembling the materials and set up for all teams might consume some time.
  • Educators have to download a number of materials like worksheets, etc.

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