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Probable Futures


6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Chemistry, Physics, English Language Arts

Resource Type

  • Ebooks

Regional Focus


Heat: Workings of Heat

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  • This digital text tells a story about how something simple, like an asphalt road, will be impacted as global temperatures rise above the range of temperatures that the road was designed for. 
  • Students will learn how the heat of the sun affects the road and the global climate, prompting them to think about the potential impacts of a changing climate on infrastructure, people, and other living things. 
Teaching Tips


  • There is an option to listen to the text being read, which is an excellent differentiation tool. 
  • The article is short and uses one main example that students can related with.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should know the term Holocene and should be familiar with the chemical formulas for the major greenhouse gases. 


  • Social Studies classes could consider what other assumptions about the Holocene climate have been engineered into aspects of our civilizations. How could these assumptions be problematic as temperatures rise? 
  • This resource lends itself well to a discussion in pairs, groups, or as a whole class. What did students find surprising? How did this resource change their understanding? 
  • Science classes can connect this resource to lessons about albedo, differences in the properties of materials, melting glaciers, and climate solutions such as insulation, painting roofs white, planting urban trees, and using permeable materials for roads and sidewalks.
  • Other related resources include Planetary Balance, A Tour of Temperature, and Maps of Temperature.
Scientist Notes
The resource illustrates the impact of radiant heat on asphalt roads, the road is viewed as a black body that absorbs solar radiation and re-emits IR back to the atmosphere where it is trapped. This process causes further warming on the Earth's surface and can cause asphalt roads to degrade over time. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • HS-ESS2-2 Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth’s surface can create feedbacks that cause changes to other Earth systems.
    • PS1: Matter and its Interactions
      • MS-PS1-4 Develop a model that predicts and describes changes in particle motion, temperature, and state of a pure substance when thermal energy is added or removed.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Informational Text (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.3 Analyze a complex set of ideas or sequence of events and explain how specific individuals, ideas, or events interact and develop over the course of the text.
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.10 By the end of grade 8, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 6-8 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
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