As a high school or undergraduate Physics teacher, you can use this set of computer-based tools to help you in teaching Planck’s Law, the Stefan-Boltzmann Law, and Blackbody Radiation.

This lesson plan allows students to visualize the emission spectra associated with particular temperatures, to understand how Planck’s Law can be used to plot blackbody curves of objects with different temperatures, and to learn the relationship between temperature and peak wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum. The activity also introduces the topic of planetary temperatures of objects in the solar system and shows the greenhouse effect of Earth’s atmosphere.
Thus, the use of this toolkit allows you to integrate the teaching of a climate science topic with a core topic in Physics.

Questions

Use this lesson plan to help your students find answers to:

  • 1. How can Planck’s Law be used to plot blackbody curves of objects at different temperatures?
  • 2. How can the Stefan-Boltzmann Law be used to calculate the surface temperature of blackbodies?
  • 3. Why does the surface temperature of Earth increase due to the greenhouse effect of the Earth’s atmosphere?

About Lesson Plan

Grade Level High School, Undergraduate
Discipline Physics
Topic(s) in Discipline • Planck’s Law, Wien’s Law
• Blackbody Radiation, Stefan-Boltzmann Law
• Relationship between Temperature and Peak Wavelength of the Electromagnetic Spectrum
• Planetary Temperatures as a function of solar energy received
• Greenhouse Effect of Earth’s Atmosphere
Climate Topic • Planetary Climates, Planetary Energy Balance
• The Greenhouse Effect
Location Global
Languages English
Access Online, Offline
Approximate Time Required 120-150 min

Contents 

Visualization and associated activity

(~ 45 min)

A visualization and associated activity to explain
how Planck’s Law can be used to plot blackbody curves of objects with different temperatures,
the relationship between temperature and peak wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum,
the greenhouse effect of Earth’s atmosphere.
Visualization:
https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/blackbody-spectrum
Associated Activity:
http://static.nsta.org/connections/highschool/201512Worksheets.pdf
Classroom/ Laboratory activity

(60 – 90 min)

A classroom/laboratory activity to understand
the energy balance of planet earth, the Stefan-Boltzmann Law,
and the solar energy flux received by planet Earth to calculate its surface temperature. This resource can be used to demonstrate the greenhouse effect of the atmosphere.
http://cybele.bu.edu/courses/gg612fall99/gg612lab/lab1.html
Here is a step-by-step guide to using this lesson plan in the classroom/laboratory. We have suggested these steps as a possible plan of action. You may customize the lesson plan according to your preferences and requirements.
1.Introduce the topic 
  • • Discuss the concept of electromagnetic radiation.
  • • Proceed with your existing lesson plan to explain Planck’s Law.
2. Conduct an activity using an interactive visualization tool
  • • Next, discuss how the Planck equation can be used to plot blackbody curves of objects with different temperatures and the relationship between temperature and peak wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum.
  • • Now, explore the topic in an interactive and engaging manner through a visualization tool and associated activity:
  • • Download PhET’s tool, “Blackbody Spectrum” from  https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/blackbody-spectrum
  • • Download an activity developed by the National Science Teaching Association titled “Exploring Planck’s Law” that was designed to be used with PhET’s “Blackbody Radiation” tool from  http://static.nsta.org/connections/highschool/201512Worksheets.pdf.
  • •  With the help of this activity, you can explain how Planck’s Law can be used to plot blackbody curves of objects with different temperatures, and the relationship between temperature and peak wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum.
  • • The activity contains several questions to be answered while using PhET’s “Blackbody Radiation” tool.
  • • An answer key for teachers can be found at http://static.nsta.org/connections/highschool/201512WorksheetsKeys.pdf
3. Conduct a classroom/laboratory activity
  • • Introduce the Stefan-Boltzmann Law as a means of calculating the total flux of energy emitted by a blackbody. Stress on how this law can be used to calculate surface temperatures of different blackbodies.
  • • Discuss the topic of energy balance and planetary temperatures in the solar system and stress on calculating surface temperature of planet Earth based on solar energy flux received.
  • • Introduce the greenhouse effect of Earth’s atmosphere and discuss how the surface temperature of Earth increases from a bare blackbody Earth to a blackbody Earth with a 1-layer atmosphere.
  • • Now, explore the topic in detail through a classroom/laboratory activity, “The Layer Model Approximation to the Greenhouse Effect”, designed by David Archer, the University of Chicago.
  • • Go to http://cybele.bu.edu/courses/gg612fall99/gg612lab/lab1.html
  • • Conduct the activity in this exercise.