Create Shade to Protect from the Sun
Students will enter this lesson knowing that materials get warm in the sun. In this fun follow-up activity, your students will get creative with craft materials. They will figure out how to protect an "animal" and its territory from getting too hot in the sun. What will they build to keep their animals cool?
This lesson connects effortlessly with the How Sunlight Warms the Earth lesson.
- To explain the problem to solve, their solution, and whether that solution solves the problem.
- To explain that blocking sunlight or providing shade causes a solution to have the desired effect (less warming of the surface.)
NGSS AlignmentThis lesson helps students prepare for these Next Generation Science Standards Performance Expectations:
- K-PS3-2. Use tools and materials to design and build a structure that will reduce the warming effect of sunlight on an area.
|Science & Engineering Practices||Disciplinary Core Ideas||Crosscutting Concepts|
|Science & Engineering Practices||Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions.
Use tools and materials provided to design and build a device that solves a specific problem or a solution to a specific problem.
Developing and Using Models. Compare models to identify common features and differences.
Develop a simple model based on evidence to represent a proposed object or tool
|Disciplinary Core Ideas||PS3.B: Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer
Sunlight warms Earth's surface.
||Crosscutting Concepts||Cause and Effect.
Events have causes that generate observable patterns.
For each group of 2–3 students, you will need:
- Cups partially filled with dry soil, sand, or rocks, one per student. The cups from the previous lesson can be reused for this lesson. If you do so, replace the water with soil, sand, or rocks so each student has one cup filled with a dry material.
- Craft materials like:
- Small toy animal, one per student, or materials to craft a small animal. The animal needs to fit in the cup with room to spare. Animals can be made from a pompom with googly eyes, modeling clay, or drawn on cardboard or paper. See Figure 4 in the Lesson section for more examples.
- School glue or tape
For the entire class, you will need:
- One additional cup of each type of dry material that the students have.
- A place in the sun to leave the cups, preferably indoors (e.g. a window sill). If you place the cups outside, try to find an area protected from wind. If this is not available, a place under an incandescent light source of 60 watts or higher is fine too.
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Background Information for TeachersThis section contains a quick review for teachers of the science and concepts covered in this lesson.
The Sun—the closest star to Earth—is essential for life on Earth. It is gigantic (more than 1 million times the volume of Earth), massive (about 330,000 times heavier than Earth) and, most importantly, is our main source of light and heat. Take the Sun away, and Earth would become a dark, frozen, lifeless ball floating around in space.
Figure 1. The Sun provides Earth with light and warmth.
The light radiated by the Sun carries energy. When this light hits a surface, part of it gets absorbed and transformed into heat. This is why surfaces placed in the sun warm up. Once warmed up, these surfaces radiate heat. Earth's atmosphere retains and distributes this heat. This, together with the redistribution of heat by the oceans, keeps our planet at a temperature that supports life.
On a smaller scale, the warming of surfaces that receive direct sunlight can be uncomfortable or even dangerous. On a sunny day, a surface (e.g. rocks, soil, or concrete) in the sun can get extremely hot—too hot for some animals (like farm animals, cats, and dogs) and people. In the lesson How Sunlight Warms the Earth, students were taught that surfaces in the sun warm up. In this lesson, your students are challenged to protect a surface (an imaginary meadow) from this warming effect. They are given a variety of craft supplies including opaque and translucent materials. The key is to block visible light from reaching that surface. People and animals do this by seeking shelter from the sun in burrows or caves, under trees, under tents or umbrellas, or in buildings.