Mini Lesson/Activity

Earth System Energy Travels (Student Activity)


Students will analyze a pie chart (circle graph) showing the distribution of different parts of the Earth system the in absorption and reflection of energy. 

Student Directions


This lesson is designed to help students identify where incoming solar energy goes once it enters the Earth system by analyzing a pie chart to assess relative distribution.

Once the Sun’s energy enters into the Earth System, it travels among the spheres. This pie chart (circle graph) represents all the energy coming from the Sun and where it travels along its path. 

EEB Pie Chart

Student Directions:

Analyze the pie chart and answer the questions below.

  1. What can happen to the energy as it travels through the Earth system? 
  2. Where does the largest percentage of energy go in the Earth system? 
  3. What kinds of ways is the energy used once it enters the Earth system (i.e., Hydrosphere, Atmosphere, Biosphere, etc.)? 
  4. What is the role of the atmosphere (including clouds) as it relates to Earth’s energy?

Teacher Note

Teachers, these mini-lessons/student activities are perfect "warm-up" tasks that can be used as a hook, bellringer, exit slip, etc.

Teachers who are interested in receiving the answer key, please contact MND from your school email address at  We verify that requestors are teachers prior to sending access to the answer keys as we’ve had many students try to pass as teachers to gain access. To receive the keys please provide the following:

  • The link to the school/institution’s teacher directory where you are employed so we can verify that you are a teacher
  • Ensure that the school email address is provided in your response as we are unable to send to personal email accounts

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