As an educator you are responsible for the
implementation of the activities found on this site. You must have
safety procedures and rules established for you classroom and make sure
all of the students follow the rules to ensure a safe environment. South
Dakota Public Broadcasting cannot in any way be responsible or liable
for any injury as a result of using the activities. Use the activities
you feel are appropriate and safe for your individual class. Have fun
and stay safe.
Questions, comments or ideas for Kids Quest can be e-mailed to Edservices@sdpb.org
It is common knowledge that all kids love to play.
Unfortunately, some of the students you have in the classroom are not as
thrilled about math, language arts or science class. Their minds may be
on recess or a television show they watched the night before. The
activity that follows is a very fun and easy supplement to bring your
class alive without straying from learning. The kids will learn and have
The focus of the following activity examines the ability of our
atmosphere to maintain moderate temperatures. Human life could not exist
without the unique blanket of gases we call the atmosphere. Astronauts
orbiting the earth in the shuttle do not have the comfort of the
atmosphere. They experience temperature fluctuations of 400-500 degrees
Fahrenheit. Without sunlight, the temperature outside the shuttle can
fall as low as -150 degrees Fahrenheit. In the sunlight the temperature
can rise as high as 300 degrees Fahrenheit. The Kids Quest episode "Fill
Your Head with Space” explains some of these concerns of temperature
fluctuation and gives the solutions NASA used to over come them. For
your convenience, all of the Kids Quest episodes can be viewed on line
On earth, the atmosphere controls the energy from the sun. We do not
experience the same fluctuations in temperature seen on the shuttle.
Layers like the thermosphere and the ozone layer of the stratosphere
absorb tremendous amounts of energy. This energy absorption prevents our
planet from becoming too warm during the day. The atmosphere also
prevents the earth from becoming too cold at night. The heat energy from
the sun is absorbed by water vapor in the air. This heat energy provides
warmth at night. Traveling in mountain areas reduces the amount of
vertical atmosphere. Mountain areas warm up quickly during the day. At
night they cool quickly. The mountains of Black Hills South Dakota are
high enough in elevation to experience this change. I remember skiing in
the Blacks Hills wearing a T-shirt during the day. Then I froze two
hours later when the sun was down.
The activity below in one form or another has
been used for years. I have seen it completed in many ways to show
different ideas. A classic form of the experiment involves testing how
car color affects heat absorbed. This is time consuming involving the
use of many vehicles of different colors. Your first problem is that
most 5th grade students do not have a car. The experiment below is
similar, but can easily be completed in your classroom.
Materials per group:
glass gallon jug with lid (quart can be used-2 per group)
thermometer 1 per jar must fit inside-science teacher may have some to
use (safety - mercury)
timer (classroom clock fine- 1 per class)
data paper (1 per student)
water(1 cup per group)
1 box baking soda
must have full sunlight
goggles(1 per students)
note: Amounts of material may vary depending on your class size.
Introduction of topic (space) (1-2 class periods)
1. Watch Kids Quest " Fill Your Head With Space”.
2. Cover information in your science text about the atmosphere.
3. Visit educational web sites about space and the atmosphere.
4. Cover the scientific method.The students could use the steps of the
scientific method to prepare a pre-lab investigation. A possible
question you could ask. Which cools quicker at night a desert region in
southwest United States or a region in southeast South Dakota. The
number of steps completed for the scientific method varies depending on
which book you use. Below are some sites which explain the scientific
method in detail.
1. The following step
should be completed 24-48 hours before the experiment date. Once you
have figured out the number of groups take 1 jar from each group and
fill the bottom with baking soda. A 1-cm layer on the bottom should
suffice. Place a thermometer in each jar and close the lid. The bulb of
the thermometer should not touch the baking soda. This will
provide a dry environment similar to a desert with less moisture or a
mountain area with less atmosphere.
2. Each group should receive the above materials. The students should
pour a cup of water in the bottom of the empty jar. They should place a
thermometer in the jar and close the lid. The bulb of the thermometer
should not touch the liquid water. This will provide a moist
environment. Both jars should be placed in direct sunlight preferably
outside on a hot fall or spring day. The jars should be place outside
right away in the morning and left there for a few hours.
3. After lunch the jars can be brought inside. An initial temperature
should be taken and written on the data sheet. Readings should be taken
every 5-10 min for about an hour. I suggest continuing with other
activities or classroom work while the readings are taken.
4. The students should hypothesize which jar will cool quicker.
5. The students should graph the data. The students should conclude how
water vapor affects temperature change.
6. The activity can be modified to meet your needs.
(example graph, can be completed on paper)
(does not represent true data)
State Standards: If completed correctly, the following
standards are used in the activity above. More standards could be used
by including spin-offs of the activity. For example, a paper could be
written about the atmosphere or about temperature measurement devices.
Number indicates standard number
FIFTH GRADE ALGEBRA STANDARDS- THE STUDENT WILL:
8. analyze tables and graphs to identify properties and relationships.
FIFTH GRADE MEASUREMENT STANDARDS - THE STUDENT WILL:
3. use and convert measurement units. (example: inches to feet) À
(convert Fahrenheit to Celsius)
7. use appropriate tools to measure length, weight, temperature, volume,
8. develop strategies to estimate conversions between Fahrenheit and
Celsius. ( extension posibility)
FIFTH GRADE STATISTICS & PROBABILITY STANDARDS- THE STUDENT WILL:
1. collect, organize, and display data in a variety of forms.
4. compare data sets of different sizes to determine reliability.
FIFTH GRADE NATURE OF SCIENCE STANDARDS- STUDENTS WILL:
1. use investigations in science to serve different purposes. (example:
2. identify and model characteristics of scientific thinking.
3. explain how scientific theory, hypothesis generation, and
experimentation are interrelated.
6. formulate hypotheses based on cause and effect relationships and use
observed patterns to make predictions.
7. make predictions, utilize observations, and draw conclusions.
8. define variables that must be held constant in a specific
9. collect, record, and report data using the appropriate graphical
representation. (example: graphs, charts, and diagrams)
10. recognize numerical data that are contradictory or unusual in
experimental results. (may have some weird data)
11. use appropriate scientific equipment for investigations.
12. use proper safety procedures in all investigations.
FIFTH GRADE PHYSICAL SCIENCE STANDARDS- STUDENTS WILL:
6. describe the effect of various external energies on the states of
matter. (example:temperature, mechanical, chemical) (water jar À vapor
12. demonstrate that temperature change can produce phase changes in
matter. (water jar)
13. demonstrate how to measure heat flow into a body.
17. explore characteristics of light, including visible spectrum, light
waves, reflection,refraction, and diffraction. (If you are comfortable,
you could talk about the electromagnetic spectrum)
FIFTH GRADE EARTH/SPACE SCIENCE STANDARDS- STUDENTS WILL:
7. understand the transfer of solar energy and how it is used. (expand
1. describe the variety of components of the solar system.
2. explain how patterns of stars remain the same even though patterns
appear to move across the sky.
3. understand that the apparent size of a light source is related to the
distance from the source.
4. describe the relative scale of Earth to the sun, planets, and moon.
5. investigate historical contributions in understanding Earth-moon-sun
FIFTH GRADE SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENVIRONMENT, AND SOCIETY, STANDARDS- STUDENTS WILL:
10. analyze environmental changes made by people and describe how the
changes have affected plants and animals. (extension of the greenhouse
Resource: South Dakota Department of Education Content Standards.