Yikes—the beach sand is hot but the water is cool! How can two adjacent materials have such different temperatures? In this timely environmental science lab kit, students carry out a controlled experiment to determine how specific heat affects the temperature of geological materials and influences climate. They also learn about the importance of the reflectivity or albedo of different surfaces on Earth, such as ice and water, or desert and forest. Students measure temperature versus time data for four materials—water, soil, black sand, and white sand—and graph the results. When exposed to the same amount of light for the same amount of time, these four materials have very different final temperatures. Use the data collected during the experiment and the graphical analysis as a starting point for discussions about urban heat islands, thermal pollution and contemporary climate issues. Kit includes reproducible student handouts, detailed background information, complete Teacher Notes with sample data and answers to all questions, and all chemicals and consumable supplies needed to perform the lab.
Complete for 30 students working in groups of three. Infrared heat lamps, thermometers and a 0.1-g precision balance are required and availably separately.