The Greenhouse Effect.

In this session we will start to investigate the question –ISS-42_Moon_on_the_Earth's_atmosphere

  1. What is the Greenhouse Effect?

What should I be able to do at the end of this investigation? I should be able to …

  1. Construct different types of data displays and predict patterns.
  2. Describe and interpret different data sets.
  3. Communicate ideas, explanations and processes in a variety of ways, including multi-modal texts.
  4. Describe what the Greenhouse Effect is and how it affects climate.

Activity 1: The effect of temperature in a greenhouse.

What you need:

PET bottle, nail, 2 thermometers

What to do:

Make a hole near the top of the PET bottle with the nail and insert one thermometer. Place the bottle in the sun. Place the second thermometer next to the bottle. Make sure that the same amount of sunlight reaches both thermometers.

We will be collating each groups data and calculating the mean, median and mode.

Using the class mean data, do both thermometers record the same temperature? If not, which one is higher? Why do you think this is so?

Record your answers in a new post entitled “The Effect of Temperature in a Greenhouse”.

Activity 2: The Energy of Sunlight.

Sunlight is made up of a range of wavelengths that the human eye sees as different colours. Do different wavelengths have the same energy?

What you need:

60o prism, thermometer, piece of black paper.

What to do:

Place the black paper flat on the ground outside on a sunny day. Hold the prism a few centimetres above the paper at right angles to the sun so that you can see a rainbow (also called a spectrum) on the paper. Lay the bulb of the thermometer in the blue end of the spectrum. Use your hand to throw a shadow over the bulb so that you are measuring the temperature of the spectrum, not that of direct sunlight. Record the temperature then measure the temperature at the red end of the spectrum.

Are the two temperatures different? Which one is higher? Find an image of the electromagnetic spectrum. Find ultraviolet (uv) on the spectrum. Is it closer to red or blue? Find infrared radiation on the spectrum. Is it closer to red or blue? What does this tell you about the energy of uv radiation compared to infrared radiation?

In a new post entitled “The Energy of Sunlight?” record your answers in complete sentences.

Activity 3: Does the Temperature Change with Height?balloon-25734_640

What you need:

Helium balloon, length of string with 5m lengths knotted into it, thermometer.

What to do:

Carefully attach the thermometer to directly under the balloon. Make sure that the thermometer WILL NOT fall out. Record the temperature at ground level. Tie one end of thermometer securely around someone’s hand! Slowly let the balloon reach it’s maximum height. After a period of two minutes, quickly retrieve the balloon and record the temperature. Repeat this process for heights of 15m, 10m and 5m.

Has the temperature changed with height? What are some possible reasons for this? Discuss these with your group members.

In a new post entitled “Does the Temperature Change with Height?” record your answers in complete sentences.

Activity 4: Does Heat Energy Change During the Night?

What you need:

Sheet of plastic (90 cm square), four wooden posts, string (4 m), 12 pegs, hammer, 2 maximum and minimum thermometers

What to do:

Hammer the posts into the ground approximately 90 cm apart to form a square. Tie the string around the tops of the posts to form a square. Place the plastic over the string and secure with the pegs. Place on thermometer under the plastic and another next to, but not under, the plastic, making sure that the thermometers are in direct sunlight.

Leave overnight and record the temperatures as soon as you get to school the following day. What were the maximum and minimum temperatures recorded by the two thermometers? Were the values for both locations the same? What do you think the plastic did?

In a new post entitled “Does Heat Energy Change During the Night?” record your answers in complete sentences.


After having completed the activities above, and using information from Climate Kids, write a paragraph explaining what the Greenhouse Effect is and how it can effect Earth’s climates?

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