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Greenhouse Effect in a Jar

organisation
  West Wales Eco Centre
(INFORSE-member)
westwales@ecocentre.org.uk
age group
 9+ years old
Topic  
The Greenhouse Effect
Goal
To develop understanding of the natural greenhouse effect
Resources
For each group:
1 jar
2 thermometers - to fit the jar
Stop watch / watch / clock
Sunlight / sunlamp
Recording sheet:
time
thermometer in jar
thermometer 2
start temperature    
after 1 minute    
after 2 minutes    
after 3 minutes    
after 4 minutes    
after 5 minutes    
after 6 minutes    
after 7 minutes    
after 8 minutes    
after 9 minutes    
after 10 minutes    
Task
  • put the 2 thermometers in sunlight or under the lamp for a few minutes
  • record the time and the start temperature
  • place the jar over one of the thermometers
  • every minute record the temperature, without touching any of the equipment
Description and Evaluation
The greenhouse effect is a natural phenomenon that enables the Earth to support life. Without the greenhouse effect the Earth would be about minus18°Celcius. Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere act like the glass of the jar. Radiation from the sun travels through the glass / greenhouse gases to the Earth's surface and is then re-radiated as heat. The heat cannot escape so the the jar / Earth warms up.

The enhaced greenhouse effect is due to an increase in the amount of greenhouse gases so the Earth is trapping too much heat so we have global warming.