• Views 73
  • Favorites

Database Provider


My NASA Data


3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Social Studies, Earth and Space Sciences, Geography

Resource Type

  • Activity - Classroom

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - Midwest



Scientifically-Interesting Story of Urban Heat Island: Lesson Resources

Ask a Question


  • In this activity, students analyze and interpret NASA data of daytime land surface skin temperature in the Great Lakes region to explore the urban heat island effect.
  • Students learn about why urban heat islands form, focusing on the interactions of land surface type, presence or absence of water, radiant heat energy, and temperature.
Teaching Tips


  • The presentation script includes talking points, questions, and answers for the teacher to use in facilitating discussion.

  • The color gradient maps allow students to visualize the heat island effect.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should know the difference between atmospheric and surface skin temperature. This is explained in the teacher's notes.
  • Students should also know how radiant energy is absorbed or reflected by dark and light colors.
  • All materials necessary to complete the activity are provided including a student sheet, Google Slides, and teacher materials.


  • The lesson allows for more open-ended discussion of what actions can be taken to manage and reduce the occurrence of urban heat islands. A discussion of public health and policy is applicable.

  • Students can interpret the data independently or with a group. Younger students may benefit from group work, whereas older students can be challenged to analyze the data independently.

  • Teachers can expand on this topic with students by using the related models and lessons that are linked.

Scientist Notes
This resource demonstrates the urban heat island model. The data from EPA is valid and useful, although the period under investigation was not captured. However, the resource is suitable and recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • MS-ESS2-1 Develop a model to describe the cycling of Earth's materials and the flow of energy that drives this process.
      • 4-ESS2-2 Analyze and interpret data from maps to describe patterns of Earth’s features.
      • 5-ESS2-1 Develop a model using an example to describe ways the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact.
      • HS-ESS2-4 Use a model to describe how variations in the flow of energy into and out of Earth’s systems result in changes in climate.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-2 Analyze and interpret data on natural hazards to forecast future catastrophic events and inform the development of technologies to mitigate their effects.
      • MS-ESS3-5 Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.
    • PS3: Energy
      • 4-PS3-2 Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Geography
      • D2.Geo.2.6-8 Use maps, satellite images, photographs, and other representations to explain relationships between the locations of places and regions, and changes in their environmental characteristics.
  • Related Resources


    Login to leave a review