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Database Provider

Author

NASA Climate Kids

Grades

4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th

Subjects

Science, Social Studies, Biology, Physics, Geography

Resource Type

  • Ebooks

Regional Focus

Global

What Is an Urban Heat Island?

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NASA Climate Kids

Synopsis
  • This page describes urban heat islands, the process of transpiration in plants, the difference in light absorption in dark and light materials, and the relationship between vegetation and temperatures in cities. 
Teaching Tips

Positives

  • This simple text is accompanied by clear illustrations.
  • There are seven bold vocabulary words on this page that students could add to a vocabulary list or vocabulary notebook: urban heat island, urban, rural, transpiration, absorb, reflect, and impervious.

Additional Prerequisites

  • There is a side by side map of New York City showing areas of vegetation and average temperatures that students could use to see the difference plants make to outdoor temperature. 

Differentiation

  • Science students can read this when learning about plants and photosynthesis or light energy and the electromagnetic spectrum.
  • Students could also watch this video about painting roofs white in New York City to reflect sunlight.
  • Students could explore an interactive map showing cities in the U.S. that are eliminating parking mandates for residential and commercial buildings. Parking mandates create more parking spots in cities, exacerbating the urban heat island effect.
  • You can take your students outside to see the urban heat island in action. This looks different depending on the location of your school.
    • If you are in a city, you can take your class to a park and then to a place with a lot of hardscape. You can have your students measure the temperature in both places using a thermometer.
    • If you are not in a city, you may be able to get similar results from taking temperature readings on a road or parking lot and then comparing it to a place with more vegetation.
Scientist Notes

The resource describes in detail the concept of urban heat island. This introduces students to the implications of the urban heat island effect on urban planning and human health. This resource is recommended.

Standards
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • MS-LS2-4 Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.
  • 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.
      • D2.Geo.2.3-5 Use maps, satellite images, photographs, and other representations to explain relationships between the locations of places and regions and their environmental characteristics.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Informational Text (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.5.10 By the end of the year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grades 4-5 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
    • 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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