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Energy Transfer and Transformation:
The Urban Heat Island Effect

Katherine Porter
2003-2004 CSIP Fellow

This lesson is designed to be introduce high school students to physical concepts they will need to understand in order to design and conduct investigations related to the "Urban Heat Island Effect" (UHI). The UHI effect refers to the observation that surface air temperatures above urban centers tend to be higher than those above surrounding suburban and rural areas. A primary cause is thought to be that the construction of cities typically involves replacing light-colored materials such as grass and trees with dark-colored materials such as asphalt and tar shingles.

In this lesson, students will be introduced to the concepts of reflection and absorption as they relate to light energy, and they will learn about energy transfer and transformation. The final parts of the lesson describe possible steps to introduce a study of the UHI effect and to help the students design and execute appropriate procedures for a study of this effect.

Downloadable files:

Teacher's Guide

Student Materials:




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