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Heating and cooling of the Earth's surface

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Overview:
Students conduct experiments on the rate that sand and water heat up and cool down. Based on their observations, they make hypotheses about why materials heat up and cool down at different rates and then test their ideas.

Author/Source:
UCMP

Grade:
6-8

Discipline:
Physical Sciences

Time:
Two class periods

Teaching tips:
This lab is modified from a text book version in order to better reflect the process of science. The word "hypothesis" is often used incorrectly in textbooks. A hypothesis should involve an explanation, based on observations, prior knowledge and logic. A hypothesis is not just a guess. Watch out for the misuse of the word "hypothesis" in textbooks and tell your students to be on the lookout too!

Concepts:
Correspondence to the Next Generation Science Standards is indicated in parentheses after each relevant concept. See our conceptual framework for details.

  • Science is both a body of knowledge and the process for building that knowledge. (NOS5)

  • Science aims to build explanations of the natural world. (P3, P6)

  • Science deals with the natural world and natural explanations.

  • Science works only with testable ideas. (P2, P3, NOS2)

  • Scientists strive to test their ideas with evidence from the natural world; a hallmark of science is exposing ideas to testing. (P3, P4, P6, P7, NOS2)

  • Scientific knowledge is open to question and revision as new ideas surface and new evidence is discovered. (P6, NOS3)

  • The process of science involves observation, exploration, testing, communication, and application.

  • Scientists test their ideas by predicting what they would expect to observe if their idea were true and then seeing if that prediction is correct. (P4, P6)

  • Hypotheses are potential explanations for what we observe in the natural world. (P6)

  • Hypotheses are usually inspired and informed by previous research and/or observations. They are not guesses. (P6)

Teacher background:

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