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Lesson 8. When You're Hot, You're Hot
Week Two Lessons
6. It's a Gas!
7. How Heavy are They?
8. When You're Hot, You're Hot
9. Watt's Up?
10. Eating Up Energy

Lab using infrared rays | Earth & Space Science

Links on this page: When You’re Hot You’re Hot - Background Information | When You’re Hot, You’re Hot - Student Sheet | When You’re Hot, You’re Hot- Teacher Sheet

 

National Education Standards Met:

sciencemath discipline

 

Goal: Students will understand how heat is radiated off of objects in the form of infrared photons (radiation) and, in the case of the Earth, how the atmosphere can trap these photons.

Objectives: Students will…

  • Understand that the sun’s energy is radiated in all directions in the form of photons.
  • Examine the difference between short wavelength photons (visible light) and long wavelength photons (infrared).
  • Develop a model that represents how greenhouse gases create a “blanket” around the Earth and trap the infrared heat being radiated off the Earth.

Time Required: 2, 45-60 minute periods

Standards Met: S1, S3, S4, S6, DA1, DA2, DA3

Materials (For class of 30 students):

  • 4-8 infrared heat lamps, hair dryers, or heat guns
  • 2-4 infrared non-contact thermometers (Raytek makes several excellent models)
  • 8-100 ml graduated cylinders
  • 8-250 ml beakers
  • Supply of water
  • 8 pieces of wool large enough to completely cover the beaker
  • 8 pieces of cotton large enough to completely cover the beaker
  • 8 pieces of nylon large enough to completely cover the beaker
  • Graph paper (two sheets per student)
  • Class set of Student Response Sheets (one per student)
  • 8 metric rulers
  • 8 stop watches (one per group) or large classroom timer
  • Hot Hands packs (optional)
  • Jerry Reed’s CD—Super Hits—“When You’re Hot, You’re Hot” and CD player (optional)

Procedure:
PART ONE

  • Set up four to eight stations in the room depending on the amount of equipment that you have acquired. Each station will need an infrared lamp, hair dryer or heat gun. You can share infrared thermometers.
  • As the students enter the room, have them sit at one of the stations. If you want to set the mood, have “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot” playing as the students are finding their stations.
  • Tell the students that you have discovered a device that can measure how “Hot” each of them is.
  • Before you start this activity, have the students make Table 1 on their Student Response Sheet.
  • The table should have three columns and as many rows as the number of students in the class (you can also include yourself if you want to have a little fun).
  • Have them label the first column “student” and the second column “temperature” (degrees Celsius). Leave the third column blank for now.
  • Picking one student at a time, have them stand and point the infrared thermometer at their chest.
  • Have the students record the temperature of each student on their table. For some fun, before class, tape some “Hot Hands” packets to your chest. Make sure that they cannot be seen through your shirt.
  • Have the students measure your chest with the infrared thermometer and record the temperature on their table.
  • Discuss with the students what variable could affect the readings from the thermometer.
  • Have them label the third column on their chart “clothing material.” Have students look at the labels (usually on their back collars) for the type of material they are wearing.
  • Classify the materials into groups (cotton, wool, synthetic, mixture, etc) and find the average temperature for each type of material.
  • Have them construct a graph showing the relationship between each type of material, and then have them answer the “Questions for Thought” for Part 1 on their Student Response Sheet.

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PART TWO

For this part of the activity, each group of students will need an infrared lap, heat gun or hair dryer, an infrared thermometer, a 100 ml graduated cylinder, a 250 ml beaker, a supply of water, metric ruler, a sheet of graph paper per student, Student Response Sheets (one per student), and three pieces of materials (cotton, wool, and nylon).

CAUTION: Heat guns and infrared lamps can get very hot and can cause severe burns and even ignite certain materials (paper) if held too close to them. Also, be cautious of electrical appliances near water. Remind your students that they are working with electrical devices that can cause shock and should never be brought close to water! Monitor the use of heat guns and infrared lamps very carefully. If you feel that your students are not capable of following these safety rules, it would be advisable to simply give them hot water to begin each step of the experiment.

Note: This procedure is written with the student groups using infrared heat lamps, minor modification would have to be made for heat guns, hairdryers, or hot water.

  • Using their graduated cylinders, have each group add 150 ml of water (room temperature 20-25°C) to their beaker.
  • Using the infrared thermometer, have each group measure and record their beginning temperature in Table 2.
  • Have each group place the infrared lamp 15 cm from the beaker.
  • Give them the instruction to turn on their lamps at the same time.
  • Have each group record the temperature of their water every minute for ten minutes and record their data in Table 2.
  • At the end of the ten minutes, have each group turn off their lamp and quickly cover their beaker with the piece of cotton.
  • Have the groups record the temperature of their covered beaker every minute for five minutes using the infrared thermometer and record their data in Table 2.
  • Have the groups empty their beakers and put fresh water in it and repeat the above steps two more times, once using wool, and once using nylon.
  • Have the students graph their results on their graph papers and then answer the “Questions for Thought” for Part 2 on the Student Response Sheet.
  • Make sure that all electrical appliances are off and unplugged before leaving the room.

Assessment:
Completed lab activity
Completed student sheet

 

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When You’re Hot You’re Hot-
Background Information

The sun’s energy is radiated in all directions in the form of photons, or packets of solar energy. One property of photons is that they are like waves. We perceive photons with relatively short wavelengths as visible light when they strike our eyes. Other photons that have relatively long wavelengths are perceived as heat when they strike our bodies, and we call these photons infrared.

Only a small fraction of the huge number of the photons emitted by the Sun every second encounter the Earth. Of the photons that do encounter the Earth, about 30% are immediately reflected back into space. Another 24% are absorbed in the atmosphere, and about 46% are absorbed by the oceans and continents, making them warmer.

Imagine a single photon of visible light nearing the end of its 8-minute journey from the Sun to the Earth. By a happy coincidence, it manages to miss dust particles and clouds in the atmosphere, and finally collides with a single molecule in a rock. The rock molecule is already vibrating because it has some heat energy. When the photon hit the rock molecule, the energy of the photon causes the rock molecule to vibrate even more. If we were to touch the rock, we would feel the vibration of the molecules against our skin as warmth.

As we know from experience, warm rocks soon cool off when they are no longer bombarded by photons (that is, in the shade or at night). If we could see a vibrating rock molecule cool off, we would see that it losses its energy by emitting a long wave infrared photon. If we place our hands a few inches from the rock, we could feel infrared photons leaving the rock as heat radiation.

The Earth’s atmosphere, consisting mostly of nitrogen (78%), oxygen (21%) and a number of greenhouse gases, affects the balance of light and ultraviolet energy coming from the Sun and heat energy leaving the Earth, the global energy balance. The greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and water vapor, absorb energy at some wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum, but allow energy at other wavelengths to pass through unimpeded. Shorter wavelength sunlight passes through the atmosphere relatively unimpeded, although the ozone layer does absorb a lot of higher wavelength ultraviolet energy. This heats up the Earth's surface, causing it to re-release energy back to the atmosphere. The lower wavelength heat (or infrared) energy given off by the Earth, however, is mostly trapped (absorbed) by the greenhouse gases, and is prevented from escaping directly back into space. This trapped heat warms the Earth's surface on average by as much as 33°C. The process is called the natural greenhouse effect. If the Earth had no atmosphere, the rocks, soil, and oceans would still be warmed by sunlight. However, rapid cooling would quickly counterbalance this heating effect. The average surface temperature of the Earth with no atmosphere would stabilize at a little under 0°F. This point, at which the energy being absorbed equals the amount being given off, is called thermal equilibrium

The atmosphere also contains millions of microscopic particles called aerosols, which scatter sunlight. The scattering of sunlight by the atmosphere is important because like the natural greenhouse effect, this can affect the amount of energy stored in the atmosphere, and therefore the Earth's climate.

Changes in the composition of the atmosphere can be a mechanism of climate change. A change in the greenhouse gas content of the atmosphere will affect the amount of energy stored in the atmosphere. For example, if the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increased, more heat will be trapped in the atmosphere. This enhanced greenhouse effect raises the Earth's surface temperature. Changes in the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere can occur in numerous ways. Natural changes in the amount of carbon dioxide stored in the atmosphere occurred at the end of the last Ice Age. A 50% increase in carbon dioxide levels coincided with a 5°C rise in global average surface temperature. Today, mankind through the burning of fossil fuels for energy and transportation, and changing land use, has produced a substantial change in the atmospheric composition over most recent centuries, and it is feared that this continuing change will lead to global climate change.

 

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When You’re Hot, You’re Hot-
Student Sheet

Name: _______________________________________

Place Table 1 for Part 1 below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Questions for Thought --

1. Why were some students “hotter” than others?

2. What material seems to let the most body heat through?

3. What other variables, besides the type of material, could affect the reading from the thermometer?

4. Where was the heat, being read by the infrared thermometer, coming from?

5. Why is your instructor so “HOT”?


Part 2
Table 2

Time (min) Trial 1 -- Cotton Trial 2 -- Wool Trial 3 -- Nylon
0      
1      
2      
3      
4      
5      
6      
7      
8      
9      
10      
11      
12      
13      
14      
15      

 

Questions for Thought:

6. What caused the water to heat up?

 

 

7. What were some of the variables that affected the outcome of this experiment?

 

 

8. If the beakers of water represented the lakes and oceans of Earth, what did the different materials represent that you used to cover the beakers.

 

 

9. If the materials that you covered the beakers with represented different greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere, what greenhouse gas would you match with?

Cotton:

Wool:

Nylon:

 

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When You’re Hot, You’re Hot-
Teacher Sheet

 

Name: _______________________________________

Place Table 1 for Part 1 below:

Answers will vary

 

Questions for Thought --

1. Why were some students “hotter” than others?

Different students were wearing different types of clothing and different number of layers.

2. What material seems to let the most body heat through?

Answers will vary, but cotton and nylon will let more heat through as compared to wool.

3. What other variables, besides the type of material, could affect the reading from the thermometer?

The student’s body temperature
If the student was standing or sitting in the sun
Where the infrared thermometer was aimed
Number of layers the student was wearing

4. Where was the heat, being read by the infrared thermometer, coming from?

The body of the student produced the heat. Humans are warm-blooded and maintain a fairly constant internal body temperature.

5. Why is your instructor so “HOT”?

Answer will vary – students will come up with some very interesting comments!

Part 2
Table 2

Time (min) Trial 1 -- Cotton Trial 2 -- Wool Trial 3 -- Nylon
0      
1      
2      
3      
4      
5      
6      
7      
8      
9      
10      
11      
12      
13      
14      
15      

 

Questions for Thought:

6. What caused the water to heat up?

The infrared lamp released long wavelength radiation in the form of photons into the beaker of water that excited the molecules of the water giving them more kinetic energy and therefore increased their temperature.

7. What were some of the variables that affected the outcome of this experiment?

Distance from the lamp to the beaker
Amount of water in the beaker
Type of material used to cover the beaker
How the students measured the temperature

8. If the beakers of water represented the lakes and oceans of Earth, what did the different materials represent that you used to cover the beakers.

The materials represented the atmosphere that surrounds the Earth and the different greenhouse gases it contains.

9. If the materials that you covered the beakers with represented different greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere, what greenhouse gas would you match with?

Answers will vary depending on their experimental results from Table 2. However, as far as greenhouse gases go, methane traps more heat than carbon dioxide, and water vapor traps far more heat in the atmosphere than both methane and carbon dioxide combined. This fact should be reflected in their answers.

Cotton:

Wool:

Nylon:

 

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