The Earth is a dynamic system that transfers heat energy through convection, conduction, and radiation. This heat transfer, along with the energy from the sun , drives the weather on the planet.
In this section, students will discover how to measure how much energy the sun produces that reaches the Earth, how heat from the Earth’s core reaches the surface, and how differences in air pressure means a storm is brewing.
Here are the scientific concepts:
- Many phenomena on the Earth’s surface are affected by the transfer of energy through radiation and convection currents.
- The sun is the major source of energy for phenomena on the Earth’s surface, powering winds, ocean currents, and the water cycle.
- Solar energy reaches Earth through radiation, mostly in the form of visible light.
- Heat from Earth’s interior reaches the surface primarily through convection.
- Convection currents distribute heat in the atmosphere and oceans.
- Differences in pressure, heat, air movement, and humidity result in changes of weather.
- The complex patterns of the changes and the movement of water in the atmosphere, determined by winds, landforms, and ocean temperatures and currents, are major determinants of local weather patterns.
- Because these patterns are so complex, weather can only be predicted probabilistically.
- The ocean exerts a major influence on weather and climate by absorbing energy from the sun, releasing it over time, and globally redistributing it through ocean currents.
By the end of the labs in this unit, students will be able to:
- Know how to demonstrate how solar energy reaches Earth through radiation, mostly in the form of visible light.
- Design and build an experiment that demonstrates convection currents.
- Understand how to measure how much energy the sun produces.
- Record data for atmospheric temperature, pressure, and humidity.
- Differentiate observation from inference (interpretation) and know scientists’ explanations come partly from what they observe and partly from how they interpret their observations.
- Measure and estimate the weight, length and volume of objects.
- Formulate and justify predictions based on cause-and-effect relationships.
- Conduct multiple trials to test a prediction and draw conclusions about the relationships between predictions and results.
- Construct and interpret graphs from measurements.
- Follow a set of written instructions for a scientific investigation.