In this unit, students make observations to explore how sunlight warms the Earth's surface. The Sun's energy heats up the pavement, keeps us warm, and can even melt marshmallows. Using what they learn, students think about ways that shade and structures can reduce the warming effect of the Sun.
THIS LESSON WAS REVISED ON JULY 1, 2021. Here is a link to the previous version.
In this Read-Along lesson, students listen to an illustrated digital storybook with student participation. If you would prefer to read the book aloud yourself, you can switch to the non-narrated version. In the story, Keya needs to find a way to get from the swimming pool to the ice cream truck without burning her bare feet on the hot pavement. In the activity, Cool Cows, students notice that cows (like people) use shade to stay cool. Then, they think through how they would design a shade structure for cows.
In this activity, students are presented with a problem: How can Farmer Josie’s cows stay cool in a sunny field with no shade trees? In a series of steps, students consider the problem and come to an understanding of what attributes a solution must have. Then they help Farmer Josie come up with a solution.
At the end, we include the option of having students draw their imagined solutions. If you would like your students to draw their ideas, make sure to have paper and crayons ready!
In this lesson, students think about their experiences with hot and cold weather, and learn about a real city where the sun never shines in winter. In the activity, Chill City, students experiment with different types of materials (opaque, transparent, and reflective) to figure out how to reflect light. They use this to bring light and warmth to an imaginary paper town.
We suggest students work in pairs. Homeschool students can work on their own.
Find A Source of Light
In this activity, students fold their worksheet so that part of the paper acts as the mountains, casting a shadow over “Chill City,” the paper town on the worksheet. For this to work, you need a light source that is NOT overhead. We have used desk lamps, table lamps, or light from a window.
If your window isn’t bright enough, a table lamp with no shade can work well as a source of “sunlight.” Put the lamp on the floor and have students sit in a circle around it. To test your light source to make sure it will work, or this activity, we recommend that you print out a copy of the Chill City worksheet and try steps 3 to 6 of the activity instructions.
Cut each report cover into two sheets at the fold. Then cut each sheet into 8 equal pieces, like this:
Do the same for the black construction paper, colored construction paper, and aluminum foil.
For each pair of students, assemble an envelope of supplies containing:
In this lesson, students observe the path of the Sun in the summer and in the winter and realize that light from the Sun keeps the Earth warm. In the activity, Mysterious Melting Marshmallows, students solve a mystery: what made the marshmallows melt? (The answer, of course, is the heat of the Sun.)
In this activity, students solve a mystery: Why do marshmallows and chocolate melt in one car, but not in another car parked nearby? Be prepared to help your students think and talk about what they notice in the video.
In a series of steps, students consider the problem and think about experiments that will help them solve the mystery. After watching the results of some experiments, students realize that the heat of the Sun melted the marshmallows. (If you want to keep your car cool, park in the shade!)
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