The Sun plays a major role on planet Earth. Some scientists think that the Earth is getting hotter because the Sun is burning more brightly than it did about a thousand years ago. Other scientists have evidence that greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, have contributed to the recent change in the Earth's temperature. Some speculate changes such as global warming may be due to changes in the Sun rather than to the release of greenhouse gases. Although some believe that the Sun may have some effects on global warming on Earth, no one knows for sure how much the effect is. There is not enough evidence produced as of yet to support exactly what role the Sun plays on global warming of the Earth. There is, however, evidence to suggest that the amount of green house gases have increased significantly.
The unit that I have written will be used to introduce children to the Sun and its effects on global warming. The intent of this unit is to ignite their interest so that they will study this subject further on their own. The unit is designed for children in grades 5-8 and will be taught for approximately ten days.
Because students are limited in their knowledge about the Sun, greenhouse effect, climate and global warming, this topic can be explored only to a somewhat limited extent. What I have tried to do is to incorporate four main ideas: 1) to study the Sun; 2) to examine the greenhouse effect to see if it is affecting Earth's climate; 3) to examine temperatures over time to see if global temperatures have any effects on weather patterns and 4) to examine whether a brighter Sun is also responsible for rising temperatures.
I think that many middle school teachers would agree that students are not exposed to these valuable concepts and will benefit if they learned more about them. Therefore, included in this unit are the following objectives; First, students will be able to gain content knowledge about the Sun and understand better its role and importance to Earth. Second, students will be able to use this knowledge to discuss the greenhouse effect and its role in global warming. And third, students will be able to use their knowledge to debate what effects the Sun has on global warming if any.
Several strategies are used in this unit. Learning packages are used with specific goals and objectives with guided instructions from the teacher. Whole group and small group discussions and individual activities are used with each lesson. Each lesson has a specific stated goal. Each lesson is guided by one of the main ideas of this unit. The lessons have been constructed to have students 1) Discuss prior knowledge; 2) Explore by doing an activity; 3) Reflect by looking back at activity, analyze and discuss and 4) to come to some conclusions, communicate to others, identify next steps that lead to the next topic. Also included in this unit are teacher resources, student reading list and a bibliography.
The design of this unit has been guided by New Haven Public School Curriculum Science Standards grades 5-8. Specifically, Content Standard 4.0 Earth Science will be addressed. This standard states that students will develop an understanding of the structures, properties and dynamic processes of the earth, the solar system, the universe and the galaxy; they will be familiar with the origins, evolution, movements and interactions of these systems.
Lesson plans are used to address performance standards 4.2c which states that students will describe the features of our Sun and how it compares with other suns in the universe and performance standard 4.2d which states that students will describe other effects of the Sun's energy on our world such as weather and winds.