Research the following articles found on the web:  You will have to use the BACK button on your browser in order to return to this page.  This reading assignment can be done a week or two before the actual experiments begin.

The greenhouse effect refers to the warming of Earth by the sun.  The main culprit in the greenhouse effect is carbon dioxide (CO2).  Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere works like the panes of glass on a greenhouse.  Glass is transparent to visible light, allowing the sun's rays to warm Earth's surface.  But when the surface gives off excess heat, the hot air stays in the greenhouse, which continues to keep the air warm.  Similarly, CO2 in the atmosphere absorbs the sun's infrared rays, allowing some of the excess heat to stay in the atmosphere rather than escaping into space.  How much heat is retained depends on how much CO2 is in the air.

Over the last 200 years, the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere has increased, raising Earth's average temperature.  Some scientists predict that if global warming continues and Earth's average temperature goes up an addition 3° to 8°F, we could see a marked increase in the number of weather related disasters like heat waves , droughts, floods, and hurricanes.

After reading the articles above, you will conduct two experiments.

  • control experiment
    • Set a thermometer about 5 inches away from a lamp with a 100-watt bulb.
    • Measure and record the temperature and distance between the thermometer and the bulb.

    • (with the bulb off)
    • Turn the lamp on for five minutes (use the stopwatch for accuracy), and record the new temperature.
    • Find the difference between these temperatures.
    • Let the thermometer and bulb cool to room temperature and repeat the process, moving the lamp a little farther from the thermometer.  Conduct the test four times at four different distances.  (make sure the thermometer and bulb cool).
    • Make a chart representing the data collected.  This information can be placed in an excel spreadsheet.  Label the chart and data accurately.
  • greenhouse experiment
    • Set a thermometer about 5 inches away from lamp with a 100-watt bulb.
    • Measure and record the temperature and distance between the thermometer and the bulb.
    • Put the thermometer in the plastic bag and close the bag.  Make sure that the bulb of the thermometer does not touch the bag.  Place the thermometer the same distance from the lamp as you did in the control experiment (about 5 inches).  Record the distance between the thermometer and the lamp bulb.
    • Turn the lamp on for five minutes (use a stopwatch for accuracy), and record the new temperature.
    • Find the difference between these temperatures.
    • After the thermometer and bulb cool, repeat the process, moving the lamp a little farther from the thermometer.  Conduct the test four times at four different distances.  (make sure the thermometer and bulb cool).
    • Make a chart representing the data collected.  This information can be placed in an excel spreadsheet.  Label the chart and data accurately.


CONTENTS:
Introduction:  Unit Overview
Begin:  Beginning the Investigation
Page 2:  Comparing Data
Page 3:  Working with Integers & Comparing Data
Page 4:  Charts and Graphs
Page 5:  Working with Formulas
End:  Closing the Investigation
Quiz:  Greenhouse Investigation Quiz

These pages were developed through GirlTECH , a teacher-training program sponsored by the Center for Excellence in Education (CEEE) with support from the National Science Foundation through EOT-PACI.