Tilting Temperatures Lesson Plan: Seasonal Temperature Changes vs. Global Climate Change

Submitted by: Jollyn Nolan

Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

In this lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades 3-12, students use BrainPOP resources to explore how the tilt of the Earth creates seasonal temperatures. Students will learn how global warming is caused by changes in the Earth’s atmosphere, and develop a plan to reduce their personal carbon footprint.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Understand that the tilt of the Earth is the reason for seasonal temperature changes
  2. Understand that global warming is caused by changes in the Earth’s atmosphere
  3. Develop a plan to reduce their personal carbon footprint

Materials:

  • Globe
  • New unsharpened pencil
  • 3 flexible thermometers
  • Desk lamp with 100+ watt bulb
  • Bubble wrap (larger bubbles work better)

Vocabulary:

longitude; latitude; global warming; solistice; equinox

Preparation:

If you have access to globes for each group, it is easier for groups of students to collect data themselves. However, the activities can be done as a demonstration.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Review latitude and longitude by viewing BrainPOP's Latitude and Longitude movie.
  2. Secure the pencil to the globe to represent the Earth’s axis.
  3. Use tape or sticky-tac to secure a thermometer on the equator (80N and 80S).
  4. Tilt the Earth at the correct angle (23.5 degrees). The pencil will allow students to be aware of the tilting.
  5. Turn on the lamp and place it about 30 cm from the Earth, ensuring it's aimed at the Equator.
  6. Wait 10 minutes. Use this time to review seasons by viewing BrainPOP's Solstice and Equinox movie. Discuss and explore the related features.
  7. Record and compare the temperatures of each thermometer.
  8. Wrap the globe in bubble wrap and place it near the lamp again, waiting 10 minutes.
  9. View BrainPOP's Global Warming movie and explore its features.
  10. Ask the students to explain how the bubble wrap can be used to represent global warming, and record and compare the new temperatures.
  11. Discuss the impact of rising temperatures.
  12. View BrainPOP's Humans and the Environment movie and explore the features.
  13. Develop a personal action plan to reduce each student’s carbon footprint. Have student write 3 postcards to their future selves that include ideas and goals.
  14. Mail or give these to the students at 3 month intervals so they can check their progress toward their goals and hold themselves accountable for their decisions.

Extension Activity:

Students could create a plan to reduce the school's carbon foot print, as well.