Activity: Heat Source and Sink

Summary: Students investigate the Great Lakes as a heat source and a heat sink.

You Need:

 

Procedure

As a whole class, discuss the Great Lakes as a heat source and a heat sink.

Develop a hypothesis to investigate, for example:

  • During the summer, coastal temperatures are typically lower than inland temperatures.
  • During the winter, coastal temperatures are typically higher than inland temperatures.

In small groups, students investigate July and January temperatures. The activity is optimal when there are 10 groups of 2 to 4 students.

  • Groups graph coastal and inland temperatures. Locate cities using Great Lakes map or use the Great Lakes Station viewer on the Great Lakes Observing System (GLOS) website.
  • Go to www.glos.us and select Observations Explorer and then search by station code.
  • Each group graphs coastal and inland temperatures at their location and completes a data sheet.
  • Five groups graph January temperatures and five groups graph July temperatures.

As a whole class, groups report their findings and discuss graphs.

  • Are hypotheses supported?
  • During which season is the difference between coastal and inland temperatures greatest? Least?
  • In which region is the difference between coastal and inland temperatures greatest? Least?
  • Is the hypothesis correct in all seasons and in all regions?
  • Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the data. For example — the data set includes only 2008 temperature data. Analysis could be improved by including data from additional years.