Activity: Absorbing Sunlight in Different Colored Soil Surfaces

This lesson plan/experiment provides steps for testing the temperature of three different colors of soil placed in the same location.  Students are then able to see how uneven heating of the earth can create wind. This resource shows heat absorption by varying surface materials affects land and sea breezes.

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
GLE 0607.8.1
Design and conduct an investigation to determine how the sun drives atmospheric convection.
GLE 0607.8.2
Describe how the suns energy produces the wind.
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Learning objectives: 

Lesson Description:

Student will conduct an activity to identify the effects of solar energy on our planet and its systems by observing how 3 colored soils absorb sunlight differently.


Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Differentiation suggestions: 


Older students can learn about the albedo of a surface,a measure of the percentage of radiation striking the surface that is reflected back into space.

Helpful Hints

Materials Needed:

  • White sand
  • Black potting soil
  • Light grey gravel
  • Three thermometers,
  • Three clear glass bowls