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A Breath of Fresh Air - A Look at the Atmosphere

Objectives:

  • The students will be able to name each layer of the Earth’s atmosphere.

  • The students will be able to describe each layer of the Earth’s atmosphere.

  • The students will be able to define “Greenhouse Effect”.

  • The students will learn about the Ozone Layer and be able to explain the importance of the Ozone Layer.

Questions that encompasses the objective:

  • Think about air. Why do you think we have air?

  • Air helps us to breath, but what other functions does air serve?

Prepare the Learner: Activating Prior Knowledge. 

How will students prior knowledge be activated?

Warm up by asking students:

  • What do you know about the Earth’s atmosphere?

Common Core State Standards:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.2.1

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.2.1 B

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.2.4

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.2.2

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.2

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.2 B

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.3.1

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.3.4

Materials and Free Resources to Download for this Lesson: 

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Input:
What is the most important content in this lesson?
To reach this lesson’s objective, students need to understand:

  • The atmosphere is made up of five major layers.

  • The name of each of the five layers of the atmosphere.

  • The function of each of the five layers of the atmosphere.

  • What the “Greenhouse Effect” is.

  • The Ozone Layer and its importance to Earth.

How will the learning of this content be facilitated?

  • The teacher will begin the class by conducting the activity “Fact or Fake?” On the board, draw two columns. Label one column “Fact” and the other column “Fake”. On a desk in front, have a pile of cards. On each card there will either be a real fact about the atmosphere or one that is made up.  Pick up each card and read what is on it. Ask the students to identify if what you read was a fact or if it was made up. Have a student come up to the board and place the card in the correct column. The students will engage in this activity for about 10 minutes.

  • Fact or Fake Answers:

    • The atmosphere has six layers. FAKE- the atmosphere has five layers.

    • The atmosphere acts a blanket for the biosphere. FACT

    • The Ozone Layer has no importance to the Earth. FAKE- the Ozone Layer helps to protect the Earth from UV rays from the sun.

    • Air is made mostly of nitrogen. FACT

    • The biosphere is one of the layers of the atmosphere. FAKE- the biosphere is one of Earth’s 4 spheres.

    • We live in the troposphere. FACT

    • Weather occurs in the thermosphere. FAKE- weather occurs in the troposphere.

    • The atmosphere is made up of gases. FACT

  • Next, the teacher will hand out the worksheet packet “Layers of the Atmosphere” If it is possible, project each page of the “Layers of the Atmosphere” worksheet packet onto the board using a projector or put into a PowerPoint document and project. As the teacher presents each worksheet, the students will fill in the blanks. Present the worksheets in this order: “Troposphere”; “Stratosphere”; “Mesosphere”; “Thermosphere”; “Exosphere”

**The student worksheet does not contain all of this information. Use this as a guide to help explain the atmosphere more in depth to the students**

  • The atmosphere is made up of gases and it surrounds the Earth. The three main gases are: oxygen, nitrogen, and argon. Other gases, particles, and molecules also make up the atmosphere.

  • The atmosphere is very important to the Earth and its inhabitants.

  •  The atmosphere serves a few purposes: protection from harmful UV rays; seals Earth off from space; protection from objects in space, such as meteoroids.

  • Heat from the sun is absorbed in the atmosphere. The atmosphere then acts like a blanket and keeps the heat in, creating warmth for the Earth. This process is known as the “Greenhouse Effect”.

  • Layers of the atmosphere increase in size when it is warm and decrease in size when it is cool.

Troposphere

  • 0 to 16 km (10 miles) / 30,000 – 50,000 feet high.

  • Layer that is closest to Earth.

  • The layer where Earth’s inhabitants live and where weather occurs.

  • Planes and other aircraft fly in this layer.

  • The troposphere makes up 80% of the atmosphere.

  • Heat for the troposphere comes from the Earth’s surface.

  • In this layer, you will find: weather, jets/ planes, people/ plants/ animals.

Stratosphere

  • Up to 50 km (30 miles) / Extends 32 miles passed the troposphere.

  • Layer where most of the Ozone is located.

  • Some weather balloons can reach this layer.

  • Most of the heat for this layer comes from the Ozone Layer.

  • It gets warmer as you go further up into the stratosphere.

  • In this layer, you will find: Ozone Layer and weather balloons

Mesosphere

  • Up to 85 km (53 miles) / Extends 50 miles passed the stratosphere.

  • Temperature is very cold—about -90OC  (-130OF)

  • Meteors burn up in this layer, even though the air is thin.

  • Without the mesosphere, the Earth would have the same texture as the Moon.

  • In this layer, you will find: meteors.

Thermosphere

  • Up to 600 km (370 miles).

  • The air is very thin and the temperature is very hot.

  • In this layer, you will find: Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)

Exosphere

  • The final layer of the atmosphere.

  • 10,000 km (6,000 miles).

  • A very thin layer; begins outer space.

  • Scientists have made satellites that have been placed in this layer.

  • Atoms and molecules escape into space via this layer.

  • In this layer, you will find: manmade satellites.

Information Sources:

http://www.geography4kids.com/files/atm_intro.html

http://easyscienceforkids.com/all-about-the-atmosphere/

http://www.starhop.com/library/pdf/studyguide/elementary/brsp-4layers.pdf

http://www.ducksters.com/science/atmosphere.php

http://www.kidsgeo.com/geography-for-kids/0040-introduction-to-our-atmosphere.php

  • After the worksheet is presented, the teacher will show the students the video: “The Ozone Layer - Part 1 | Chemistry for All | FuseSchool” by FuseSchool - Global Education. This video is about 4 ½ minutes long and discusses the Earth’s Ozone Layer. Before beginning the video, the teacher should provide some background information on the Ozone Layer to the students:

  • The Ozone Layer is made up of ozone, a gas made formed by three-oxygen atoms.

  • Ozone is formed when the sun hits the oxygen molecules and they break into individual atoms.  

  • In the stratosphere, there is large amount of ozone. This area is called the Ozone Layer.

  • The Ozone Layer is important because it protects us from the sun’s harmful UV rays. UV rays can burn our skin and even cause skin cancer.

  • Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are chemicals that are made up of chlorine, fluorine, carbon, and hydrogen. These chemicals were designed for refrigerators only, but worked so well that people began putting them into other materials, such as air conditioners, fire extinguishers, and aerosol cans. CFCs are very harmful to the Ozone Layer because they destroy the layer and make it thin.

  • In 1974, scientists made a connection between CFCs and the Ozone Layer. By 1987 a treaty was formed and CFCs were slowly removed from products. The goal was to have CFCs removed from all products in developing countries by 2000.

  • CFCs stay in the air for a long time, so even though they have been removed, the particles are still destroying the Ozone Layer.

  • If the Ozone Layer is destroyed, it can be harmful for the Earth’s inhabitants. UV rays will be stronger, causing an increase risk of eye damage and skin cancer. 

Information Source:

http://www.ducksters.com/science/environment/ozone_layer.php

  • After the video is completed, the students will participate in an activity called “What Will I Find in the Atmosphere?” The students can work individual or in pairs. Each student will get a sheet of paper with different pictures of things you can find in the atmosphere. The students will also get a poster board and “Atmosphere Layer Cards”. The students will cut out the names of the layers and the pictures. The students will then glue each picture into its appropriate atmosphere. The students can use their worksheet packet if they want to. Allow the students to work for about 15 minutes. Reconvene and discuss when the students are finished.

Closure

  • The final assessment will be for the students to answer the question:

Think about what you learned in class today. What is the atmosphere made up of? How many layers does the atmosphere have? What are they? Which layer do we live in? Where is the Ozone Layer and why is it important?

Time/Application
3-5 minutes
Guided Introduction

Review the class/ agenda with the students:

  • Introductory Activity: “Fact or Fake?”

  • Discussion: Atmosphere | Ozone Layer Discussion | Ozone Layer Video  

  • Activity: “What Will I Find in the Atmosphere?”

  • Discussion of Activity

  • Independent Assessment

15 minutes

Introductory Activity: “Fact or Fake?”

  • Draw two columns on the board: “Fact” and “Fake”

  • Have the “Fact or Fake?” cards on a desk in front.

  • Read through each card, asking the students if they think the fact about the atmosphere is real or made up.

15 Minutes

“Layers of the Atmosphere” Worksheet Packet | Ozone Layer Discussion | Ozone Layer Video

15 Minutes

Activity: “What Will I Find in the Atmosphere?”

  • The students can work individually or in pairs.

  • Give each student an “Atmosphere Pictures” sheet, poster board and “Atmosphere Layer Cards”.

  • The students will cut out the names of the layers and the pictures and glue each picture into its appropriate atmosphere.

  • Allow the students to work for about 15 minutes.

  • At the end of 15 minutes, have the students return to their desks and discuss the activity.

Closure/Assessment
10 minutes

  • As an independent assessment, the students will answer the question:  

Think about what you learned in class today. What is the atmosphere made up of? How many layers does the atmosphere have? What are they? Which layer do we live in? Where is the Ozone Layer and why is it important?

  • Appropriate answers should include (but will vary):

  • If there is additional time, discuss any questions the students might have.

Individualized Instruction/Scaffolding

English Language Learners will be supported in this lesson through data-based heterogeneous grouping, verbal and written repetition of new vocabulary words, and multiple representation of vocabulary words through printed images and video.

Ecosystems, Biomes, and Habitats PowerPoint and Activities