Insulated by an outer crust, the surface of the earth acquires nearly all of its heat from the sun. The only exit for this heat to take is through a door marked "Radiation." And therein lies a tale...
Recently, I chanced upon an Atmospheric Science Educator Guide [PDF
] published by NASA. Aimed at students in grades 5 through 8
, it helps teachers explain how so-called "greenhouse gases" warm our planet Earth.
are interesting on a number of levels, so I recommend that you look them over. But what caught my eye was this:
Question: Do all of the gases in our atmosphere absorb heat?
Answer: (Allow students to discuss their ideas. Don't provide the answer at this time.)
Indeed, that's a good one to think over yourself. Almost all of what we're breathing is nitrogen and oxygen -- do these gases absorb heat? Lakes and rocks absorb heat, after all, and thereby reach a higher temperature. So can nitrogen and oxygen molecules do the same?
Well, I won't keep you hanging. After allowing students to discuss it, the instructor is instructed to give them the final verdict.
Click source to read FULL report by Alan Siddons