Mini Lesson/Activity

A Mini Urban Heat Island

Overview

Conduct this EO Kids mini-lesson with your students to explore the phenomenon of Urban Heat Island Effect.

Student Directions

Materials

For each student/group:

  • infrared thermometer (available from hardware stores for about $15)
  • pencil
  • data table
  • five different types of materials found outside: grass, pavement (driveway, road), sidewalk, plant (tree or bush), and bare soil
    sample data collection
    Credit: NASA, Image courtesy of Jessica Taylor

Steps

  1. Using the infrared thermometer, measure the temperature of each material during the day when it is in direct sunlight. Record the temperature for each object in the first row of the data table.
     

    DATA TABLE

    plant

    grass

    soil

    pavement

    sidewalk

    temperature in the sunlight (°C)          
    temperature in the dark (°C)          
    difference in temperature (°C)          

     

  2. Wait for the Sun to set.
  3. Measure the temperature of each surface an hour after sunset. Record the temperature for each object in the second row of the data table.
  4. Subtract the temperature of each material after dark from the temperature observed during daylight. Record this temperature difference in the bottom row of the data table.
  5. Answer the following questions.
    1. Which three materials retained the most heat (changed the least)?
    2. Which two materials radiated the most heat (were warmest) at night?
    3. Which two materials absorbed heat the most readily (warmest daytime temperatures)?

Credit: This activity was modeled after the NASA's EOKids - Urban Heat Islands: Hot Times in the City activity.

Teacher Note

If students cannot do day and night, this can be modified for early morning and later in the day. Other options are surfaces in direct sunlight and shadows, cloudy versus clear days or adding more surfaces. 

Teachers, these mini lessons/student activities are perfect "warm up" tasks that can be used as a hook, bell ringer, exit slip, etc. They take less than a class period to complete. Learn more on the "My NASA Data What are Mini Lessons?" page.

Teachers who are interested in receiving the answer key, please complete the Teacher Key Request and Verification Form. 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.

Complementary Mini Lessons

Complementary Models

Complementary Lesson Plans

Not finding what you are looking for?