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Utah Science

Curriculum Consortium

Tyson Grover 

tgrover@dsdmail.net

Annette Nielson

afonnesbeck@dsdmail.net

Storyline Narrative 6.3.3 - 6.3.4

SEEd Standard 6.3.4 asks students to construct an explanation supported by evidence for the role of the natural greenhouse effect in Earth’s energy balance, and how it enables life to exist on Earth. Examples could include comparisons between Earth and other planets such as Venus and Mars.

 

SEEd Standard 6.3.3 asks students to develop and use a model to show how unequal heating of the earth’s systems causes patterns of atmospheric and oceanic circulation that determine regional climates. Emphasize how warm water and air move from the equator toward the poles. Examples of models could include Utah regional weather patterns such as lake-effect snow and wintertime temperature inversions.

 

To engage students, we begin our storyline with students asking the question, “In our solar system, why is there only life on Earth?” Students analyze data of different planets in our solar system. They use data to compare planets looking for patterns that might explain why Earth is different and allows it to sustain life. After analyzing data, students realize that Earth is different from other planets in temperature, amount of water, and atmospheric gases and this is what enables life to exist on Earth. This leaves students wondering why Earth doesn’t have as dramatic changes in temperature as other planets.

 

In order to explore this question, students obtain, evaluate, and communicate information as they develop a model of why Earth’s temperature, compared to other planets, doesn’t change dramatically using the CK12 website for research. Students construct an explanation supported by evidence for Earth’s stable temperature. Students develop their model further by discussing Earth’s energy balance. They argue from evidence how they know that Earth takes in energy but also releases it. After research and discussion, students explain that the earth has an atmosphere with greenhouse gases that maintain the temperature on Earth during the night. Earth has an energy budget. Earth takes in the same amount of energy that it releases. After learning this, students wonder why the entire earth isn’t the same temperature.

 

To answer the question of why the entire earth isn’t the same temperature, students expand their understanding by looking at a thermal map of the earth. They find patterns of temperature and make a list of questions of things that don’t follow the trend or that are confusing to them. Students use their model of seasons to explain the pattern of unequal heating of the earth from energy from the sun. After analyzing the thermal map and comparing that with their model of why we experience seasons, students recognize that because of unequal heating from the sun, the earth is warmer around the equator and gets colder towards the poles.

 

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To explain how the unequal heating from the Sun affects Earth and it’s systems, students use their understanding of reservoirs and transfers from 6.3.1 to develop a model and construct an explanation to describe how the mixture of warm air and cool air causes movement in air particles, in turn causing wind.  Students develop a model of the convection cells with high and low pressures on Earth.  They compare this to a map of the earth’s climates and find patterns. Based on the patterns students have found and their model of convection cells, students determine that the constant heating and cooling of air particles causes pockets of air, that are similar in temperature and humidity that cause pressure to form. These pockets are known as air masses.  Students further determine that as these air masses move from high pressures to lower pressures, they cause wind. This causes students to wonder how wind and its patterns affect Earth.

 

To explain how wind patterns affect Earth, students sprinkle cork dust on a pan filled with water. They simulate wind by blowing through a straw over the water.  Students note patterns that they see. They discuss in small groups whether air could push water causing currents.  Students further develop their model by comparing a world map of wind patterns to a world map of ocean currents. They note patterns and discuss in small groups their findings. Based on patterns found and through discussion, students determine that the unequal heating of the earth causes wind and that wind causes ocean currents and that currents are contained by landforms and that wind is not. Students then wonder how wind and ocean currents affect climates.

 

To answer the question of how wind and ocean currents affect climates and to elaborate on their understanding, students collect and  analyze data in order to give evidence for causes of the different climates.  Students use their model and understanding to make sense of the patterns they see and why climates don’t always follow patterns of latitude. Students find that there are factors that cause climates such as elevation, continental vs coastal, and wind patterns.  There are linear patterns that align latitude and climates.  


To evaluate student’s understanding, students are assessed on their use of evidence in their constructed explanations of the phenomena of the role of the natural greenhouse effect in Earth’s energy balance and how it enables life to exist on Earth. Students also use their model to explain how unequal heating of the earth’s systems causes patterns of atmospheric and oceanic circulation that determine regional climates.

Episode 1

Question

Why is there only life on Earth, in our Solar System?

Snapshot

Students analyze data of the different planets. They use data to compare planets looking for patterns that might explain why Earth is different, and allows it to have life. http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/compare&Object1=Mars

Conceptual Understandings

Earth is different from planets in temperature, water, and atmospheric gases.

Why does Earth not have as dramatic changes in temperature as other planets?

 

Conceptual Understandings

The earth has an atmosphere with greenhouse gases that maintain the temperature on Earth during the night. Earth has an energy budget. Earth takes in the same amount of energy that it releases.

Why isn’t the the whole earth the same temperature?

Snapshot

Students obtain, evaluate, and communicate information as they develop a model of why Earth’s temperature doesn’t change dramatically using the website CK12 to research. Students construct an explanation for Earth’s stable temperature. Students develop their model further by discussing Earth’s energy balance. They argue from evidence how they know that Earth takes in energy but also releases it.

Episode 2

Question

Why does Earth not have as dramatic changes in temperature as other planets?

 

Episode 3

Question

Why isn’t the the whole earth the same temperature?

Snapshot

Students look at a thermal map of the earth. They find patterns of temperature and make a list of questions of things that don’t follow the trend or that are confusing. Students use their model of seasons to explain the pattern of unequal heating.

Conceptual Understandings

The earth is warmer around the equator and gets colder towards the poles.

How does unequal heating from the sun affect Earth’s different systems?

 

Conceptual Understandings

The constant heating and cooling of air particles causes pockets of air, that are similar in temperature, humidity, and causes pressure to form known as air masses. As these air masses move from high pressures to lower pressures this causes wind.

How does wind and its patterns affect Earth?

Snapshot

Students use their understanding of reservoirs and transfers from 6.3.1 to develop a model and construct an explanation to describe how the mixture of warm air and cool air causes movement in air particles, in turn causing wind. Students develop a model of the convection cells with high and low pressures on earth. They compare this to a map of the earth’s climates and find patterns.

 

Episode 4

Question

How does this unequal heating affect Earth and its  systems?

Episode 5

Question

How do wind patterns affect Earth?

Snapshot

Students investigate wind and its patterns by using a pan, water, and cork dust. They create wind by blowing through a straw. Students note patterns that they see. They discuss whether air could push water. Students develop their model further by comparing a map of wind patterns and a map of ocean currents.

Conceptual Understandings

Unequal heating causes wind and wind causes ocean currents. The geographical distribution of land limits where oceans can flow. Landforms affect atmospheric flows (e.g., mountains deflect wind and/or force it to higher elevation).

How do the wind and ocean currents affect climates?

 

Conceptual Understandings

There are factors that cause climates such as: elevation, continental vs. coastal, and wind patterns. There are linear patterns that align latitude and climates.

Can I use my model to explain how unequal heating of the earth’s systems causes patterns of atmospheric and oceanic circulation that determine regional climates?

Snapshot

Students will collect and analyze data in order to give evidence for causes of the different climates. Students use their model and understanding to make sense of the patterns they see and why climates don’t always follow patterns of latitude.

Episode 6

Question

How do the wind and ocean currents affect climates?