January 24, 2024 Filed in: Articles

With just a little coaxing, and a little help from their calculators, our grade 10 science students can use a simple energy-balance type of climate model to calculate the average temperature of a planet.

With this activity, your students will be able to calculate

This one-period activity can show your students how the numerical value of Earth’s albedo (0.3) is very meaningful to our planet’s temperature! If you are looking to inject a little more physics into your

Several years ago I had a chance to chat with Dr. Paul Kushner in the McLennan Physical Labs at the University of Toronto. He pulled a book off his shelf and tried to explain to me the simple climate model that I now share with my SNC2D students.

At first this calculation looked heavy to me, but then I realized that this simple climate model could be very accessible to grade 10 science students (if I went slowly, and I showed them how to calculate the 4

The key concepts in this activity are very accessible:

- The Earth blocks a circular area of the sun’s light (πr
^{2}) - The Earth radiates heat to outers pace over its entire surface area (4πr
^{2}) - The energy received by the Earth equals the energy emitted by the Earth (the idea of the Earth being in thermal equilibrium)

While I was trying to put all the pieces of this activity together in my head, I had a moment of inspiration from the POGIL activities that the chemistry and biology teachers at my school were using.

POGIL is an acronym that stands for

I chose to emulate my simple climate model activity after the POGIL activities that I had used in other lessons because I wanted to address the key concepts of this climate model one at a time (I wanted to go slowly). I also wanted the students to work in groups to ensure the participation of each student in each group, as best as I could. The POGIL process provides for all of these things.

- A Simple Climate Model (student version)
- A Simple Climate Model (including answers)