Sunlight Warms Earth's Surface

Contributor
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner This unit is modified from a unit developed by the New Bedford Ocean Explorium, “Ecosystems and Invasive Species: Grades 6–8.” Contributing authors of the original unit include David Welty, Wende Allen, Jack Crowley, and Hugh O’Mara, and editor Jewel Gilbert.
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Unit , Rubric , Lesson/Lesson Plan , Assessment Item
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

Reviews

Description

In this unit of study, in a series of six lessons, students will use their observations to develop an understanding that sunlight warms Earth's surface and use their knowledge to design and build a prototype of a structure that will reduce the warming effect of sunlight in different areas. 

Intended Audience

Educator
Educational Level
  • Early Elementary
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

K-PS3-2 Use tools and materials provided to design and build a structure that will reduce the warming effect of sunlight on an area.

Clarification Statement: Examples of structures could include umbrellas, canopies, and tents that minimize the warming effect of the sun.

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
In Lesson 6 students will address K-PS3-2 by first building a model of a beach and then they will design and test a shelter that will lessen the warming effect of sunlight on the beach surface. Since the previous lessons build understanding toward this Performance Expectation, one should complete the full unit.

K-PS3-1 Make observations to determine the effect of sunlight on Earth’s surface.

Clarification Statement: Examples of Earth’s surface could include sand, soil, rocks, and water

Assessment Boundary: Assessment of temperature is limited to relative measures such as warmer/cooler.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Lessons 3,4, and 5 are specific to K-PS3-1 however, Lessons 1 and 2 build essential background information, through exploration of different types of surfaces, that will help students understand properties of these surface types that lesson or enhance the effect of sunlight.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
In the final lesson, designed as an embedded performance assessment, students work in groups to design, build, and justify the viability of their heat shielding structure, using what they have learned thus far in the unit. Provide a variety of materials for groups to choose from for their structure and allow ample time for testing their structures in natural sunlight. This lesson may take more time than the lesson allows.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
The lessons suggest to make several tools available that students can choose from, to conduct their investigations. Be sure to follow the teacher notes in order to allow students to plan their own investigations and to collect their data. The Essential Questions and Discussion parts of the lesson will allow students the opportunity to compare their data and to fully engage in this Practice.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Follow the lessons in order in the unit to fully develop this Disciplinary Core Idea.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Be sure to point out the direct relationship between the sunlight and the warming effect on the different surfaces throughout the lessons in the unit. While there is ample opportunity for students to see this relationship, the teacher may have to be explicit about it by having students identity the relationship as they are observing it.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: The learner engages with the phenomena of the effect of sunlight on Earth’s surface and in the Performance Expectations by; first hand observations and data collection, and by using tools and materials of their choice to design and test a sun shade structure. The phenomena is used as a springboard for students to practice taking temperatures (data), organizing the data, and comparing their results. They solve a problem of how to protect humans from the warming effects of sunlight through designing and testing their structures. The Disciplinary Core Idea is reinforced throughout all the lessons; first as students build understanding through observations as they collect data and use it to determine how sunlight affects Earth’s surface. Then, as students test their final designs in natural sunlight. It is recommended to follow the unit in the order it is written and entirely for students to fully engage with the phenomena through all three dimensions.

  • Instructional Supports: Engages students in an authentic and meaningful scenario that they can directly relate to and observe. They also observe the phenomena first-hand through an investigation. The lesson provides students with an engineering design challenge that is relevant to common real world experience. The unit is designed with a focus on student directed activity and guided inquiry which lends itself to being accessible to most learners, though there are no explicit instructions for high ability learners, the lessons allow for a lot of choice in the way students conduct the activities throughout the unit.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The unit has a strong correlation with all three dimensions of the standards and the observation of phenomena. Careful teacher observation will allow for direct, observable evidence of three-dimensional learning. The ending performance assessment (if the lesson plan is followed) will give teachers a culminating view of students’ understanding. A rubric to assess the final task is also included.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: - none -