Caroline Cooney                                                  ET541-4202, Boise State University

                                                                                                     Summer 2015

Lesson Plan Heat Transfer in the atmosphere

Subject/Grade Level: Earth Science Grades 11,12

Description: In this lesson, students will learn about the three types of heat transfer in our environment.

Prerequisite Knowledge: Students should already know about the layers of the atmosphere, the Electromagnetic Spectrum, and how the sun is earth’s source of energy.

Objectives: The students will be able to…

  1. Explain the three types of heat transfer: radiation, conduction, convection.
  2. Give examples of each type and explain how the example shows the type of heat transfer.
  3. Explain the difference between heat and temperature
  4. Use the three temperature scales (Kelvin Celsius, Fahrenheit) and convert between the three scales.
  5. Recognize that the earth’s overlying troposphere is heated mainly by radiational cooling of earth.

Standards Addressed:

Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Framework, October 2006 Scientific Inquiry Skills (SIS) standards:

SIS1.        Make observations, raise questions, and formulate hypotheses.

SIS2.        Design and conduct scientific investigations.

SIS3.        Analyze and interpret results of scientific investigations.

SIS4.        Communicate and apply the results of scientific investigations.

Standard1. Matter and Energy in the Earth System

Central Concepts: The entire Earth system and its various cycles are driven by energy. Earth has both internal and external sources of energy. Two fundamental energy concepts included in the Earth system are gravity and electromagnetism.

1.3   Explain how the transfer of energy through radiation, conduction, and convection contributes to global atmospheric processes, such as storms, winds, and currents.

Relative Advantage: Students will explore the topic via on line tutorials, participate in labs, and then explain to their peers (using an infographic) the three types of heat transfer.  

Timeline: Six Days


Laptops and or Chromebooks

Internet access

convection activity:clear bowls, small glass bottle, ice cube tray, food coloring, water

conduction activity: heat source (hot plate), metal spoons, ice cube,

pot holders,

temperature probes and/or thermometers

radiation activity: coffee cans (one painted matte black, the other silver)

student accounts in Piktochart

Grouping Strategies: Students will be place in groups of 3 or 4 to complete the lab activities.

Learning Activities/Pacing:

Day one: 

Day two:

Day three:

Day four:

Day five:

Day six


Students will make an infographic to share their knowledge of heat transfer (100points)

Traditional Assessment Teacher will put a beaker of water on a hot plate, place a metal spoon in beaker. Teacher will ask students to identify and explain the types of heat transfer with a clear explanation.(15 points).

Adaptations for Learners with Special Needs: Modifications include ‘chunking” the activities for students who get overwhelmed with organization and projects. ELL’s can use Google translate to assist in their reading. Working with partners often helps ELL students model the language conventions. Students have the ability to watch and re-watch, and read and re-read all the on line material to help students that may be struggling. Also, students who are not “test takers” have the opportunity to showcase their learning in a non test environment. Students will peer evaluate each others’ infographics before passing in for grading. The teacher should work closely to implement any specific needs.

Rubric for Grading

Required Element

Points available

Points earned

Completed Lab and all tutorials


Infographic includes:

Definition of three types of heat transfer with picture that is an example of each type with a clear explanation of how/why the picture is an example.


Infographic includes:

an explanation of the difference between heat and temperature


Infographic includes: an explanation of the three temperature scales, and how to convert between the three


Infographic includes: a minimum of 5 images, and all images are given credit.


Infographic includes: references at the bottom in APA formatting


Commented on and gave constructive comments (using this rubric) to a minimum of three of your peers.


Total points



The transfer of heat energy. (2010). National Weather Service. Retrieved from:

Heat and temperature.. IPAC retrieved from:

Heat Transfer (2015). Teach Engineering. Retrieved from: