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Author

NASA

Grades

5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th

Subjects

Science, Physics, Earth and Space Sciences, Math

Resource Types

  • Experiment
  • Worksheet

Regional Focus

Global

Format

PDF

Heating Earth's Surfaces: Albedo

Synopsis
  • This lab from NASA provides instructions for students to develop and test a hypothesis on the impact different colors have on light absorption and surface temperature. 
  • The document includes lab instructions, tables to record data, a graphing sheet, and analysis questions for students. 
Teaching Tips

Positives

  • The lab begins with thinking questions to get students to consider surface temperatures they may have encountered in their own lives.
  • The procedure steps are simple and easy to follow.
  • The hypothesis section is scaffolded for students.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Teachers would need to review and acquire the materials ahead of time.
  • There is a caution that the bulb may be very hot, so it is recommended to review safety ahead of time.

Differentiation

  • Teachers can strategically group students and assign roles ahead of time.
  • Students can conference with other groups to discuss the analysis questions.
  • Teachers can foster a class discussion after the lab to share findings and analyze patterns in the data.
  • Other resources related to these topics include this similar lab about albedo and this experiment that connects the albedo effect to climate change.
Scientist Notes
This activity can help students comprehend the influence of albedo on various surfaces, as well as how these surfaces absorb and reflect radiation in different ways. This is necessary to understand temperature changes caused by various characteristics on the Earth's surface. It is suggested that this resource be used in the classroom.
Standards
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • PS3: Energy
      • MS-PS3-3 Apply scientific principles to design, construct, and test a device that either minimizes or maximizes thermal energy transfer.
    • PS4: Waves and Their Applications in Technologies for Information Transfer
      • MS-PS4-2 Develop and use a model to describe that waves are reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through various materials.
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • HS-ESS2-5 Plan and conduct an investigation of the properties of water and its effects on Earth materials and surface processes.
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