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Heating land and water

Model the heating of land and oceans on earth using a lamp, sand and water. Measure the temperature rise in each.
Science content (2016 curriculum): 
Physics: Heat (3)
Earth/Space: Weather, Seasons, Climate Change (K, 1, 4, 7)
Earth/Space: Sun, Moon, Solar System, Universe (1, 4, 6)
Lessons activity is in: 
  • plastic shoe box
  • incandescent bulb and holders
  • two shallow tubs
  • 150ml dry sand
  • 150ml water
  • two thermometers

Add sand to one tub and water to another and place side by side in the plastic box. Add the thermometers so that they are submerged in the material, and read the temperature.
Lay the light over the box so that it is equally far from the tubs of sand and water. Leave for at least 10 mins, then take the temperature again.
Graph the results.

For fewer students, the temperature reading at each time point can be plotted, and a line drawn between the points from one set up. The slopes of the lines are compared to see whether land or water heats up faster.
For a class of data it is less chaotic to have each group to calculate their temperature rise in the sand and water, then add each as a single point to the graph.

The sand heats up much more quickly than the water.
In the same way, then sun heats up the earth's land more quickly than its oceans.
This means the air above the land heats up more than the air above the water, creating temperature differences therefore air movements.

Grades taught: 
Gr 4
Gr 5
Gr 6
Gr 7
Heather Wallace
Nina Hooker
Scott Malin
Sharon Ghuman
Teaching site: 
ingridscience afterschool
Tyee Elementary