Grade 7 Heat in the Environment

This resource page is designed to help students respond to STSE issues relating to ‘Heat in the Environment’ with inquiry-based actions. ‘Heat in the Environment’ is a unit set within Ontario’s Grade 7 Science curriculum. The Overall Expectations for teaching and learning in this unit are:
1. Assess the costs and benefits of technologies that reduce heat loss or heat-related impacts on the environment
2. Investigate ways in which heat changes substances, and describe how heat is transferred
3. Demonstrate an understanding of heat as a form of energy that is associated with the movement of particles and is essential to many process within the earth's systems

General Overview of Resources Use
The activities of this resource page are organized into three progressive sections as recommended in the Backgrounder.
Click here for a brief description of the sections.

Detailed Suggestions for Resources Use
1. Model Inquiry-based STSE Actions
You might begin the unit by activating students' understanding of heat through a mind map – they can record relevant key terms and illustrations. In addition, you may want to ask the class questions including: What is heat? What is temperature? How do they play a part in our daily lives (e.g. core body temperature must remain at 37 degrees Celcius, outdoor temperature affects our climate/vegetation)? Afterward, you could have students begin thinking about how heat relates to science, technology, society and environments – they could brainstorm a list of issues related to heat including the following:
Pot holes: When water seeps through cracks in the road it freezes and expands, eventually causing sections of pavement to break. Potholes can cause car damage and traffic accidents. Each, however, costs about $25 to repair – the City of Toronto spent about $7 million in 2008 to fix over 250 000 potholes. What are some long-term solutions to this 'pothole problem'?
Green roofs: A green roof consists of vegetation growing over an above grade roof. They help save on cooling and heating costs; plant respiration cools surrounding air while the additional layers of plant and growing material provides insulation to the building. Toronto was the first North American city to pass a bylaw requiring new buildings with a total floor area of 2000m2 or greater to have vegetation growing over part of the roof. Should other cities follow suit?
Tanning salons: Indoor tanning is a growing trend in North America and other parts of the world. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays leads to increase melanin production in the skin, leaving customers with a healthy-looking glow. Overexposure to UV rays, however, causes skin to wrinkle faster and increases the risk of developing melanoma (a serious form of skin cancer).
Global warming: The average temperature of the earth's near-surface air and oceans has been increasing mostly due to increased concentration of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Increased greenhouse gas concentrations are largely due to human activity such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.
Heat waves and homelessness: People are encouraged to stay indoors and avoid direct sunlight during the day. The homeless are particularly at risk during a heat wave due to lack of shelter space is major cities.
Sweatshops: We need different types of clothing to keep us warm during the winter and cool during the summer; a visit to a local mall will reveal hundreds of fabrics and styles to choose from. Most of the clothes we wear, however, are stitched by workers in third world countries who work in harsh conditions and receive very little pay.
Having sensitized students to a number of issues related to the unit, ask students what could be done about them – record their answers. Furthermore, provide examples of actions people have taken through the videos/images below. After going through each, allow students to share their reactions.

1. Jim Keady speaks out against Nike's human rights violations

2. Spoken word (Nike poem)

3. Nike cartoons with a message
Nike_Daughter.jpg USA_Indonesia.jpg

Nike_Slave.jpg Nike_Factory.jpg

Nike_Race.jpg Nike_Kid.jpg

Discussion questions:
- What actions are being taken to bring inform people about the unjust treatment of Nike factory workers?
- In addition to educating others, what other forms of activism would help combat the issue?
- What sources of information were used for each example (i.e. news report, poem, and cartoons)?

2. Guided Inquiry-based STSE Actions
Before beginning the project, it is important to assess students’ comfort and expertise with conducting primary and secondary research. You might have to take some time to provide students with lessons on developing inquiry skills such as asking cause-result questions, designing experiments and correlational studies, preparing appropriate tables and graphs, analyzing data, reporting findings, etc. Since students will be conducting primary research, it would also be useful to discuss the general features of correlational studies and experiments.

If you feel that students have sufficient expertise with primary research, you should then proceed with a guided inquiry-based project. One suggestion is for students to conduct primary and secondary research on tanning salons. It may be beneficial to provide students with background information on the process of tanning (i.e. UV radiation, melanin).

Afterward, have students...
a. Find information on:
- Statistics on tanning salons visits and number of salons in Canada/North America
- Individual factors that contribute to indoor tanning (e.g. gender, age, income, education)
- Short-term and long-term risks
- Actions of health organizations and governments in light of health risks.
b. From secondary research and anecdotal evidence, make a list of factors/demographics (dependent variables) that may affect tanning practices (independent variable).
c. Create a survey based on parts a. and b. (e.g. Tanning Survey (Sample).doc).
d. Distribute the survey to at least 10-15 people.
e. Display the results in a bar graph. It may be useful for students to combine their data to form a larger sample size.
f. Determine whether there is a relationship between individual characteristics and attitudes/practices of tanning.
g. Brainstorm a number of actions that would help effectively address the issue.
h. As a class or in smaller groups, implement a plan of action – this could include educating others through multimedia, like the video below.

Sample educational video:

Discussion questions:
- Why is the prevalence of skin cancer greatest among Caucasians as opposed to individuals of other races?
- Is the requirement of parental consent an effective solution for preventing minors from using indoor tanning services?
- Are sunless tanners truly a safer alternative to tanning beds?

3. Student-led Inquiry-based STSE Action Project
a. Handout copies of the assignment to the class – it may be useful to do this at the beginning of the unit. Read it over together and ensure everyone understands each part.
b. Provide students with a list of STSE issues relevant to the Internal Systems and Regulation unit, including ones that were brainstormed by students in the first, modeling activism phase.
c. Organize students into small groups of 3-5 students – each will explore and act upon one STSE issue. Encourage students to work collaboratively, making decisions and dividing work appropriately.
d. Provide students with in-class time to use the library and/or computer lab for research and encourage groups to meet outside of class time. It would also be useful to set tentative deadlines for each stage of the project to help groups manage their time.
e. Towards the end of the unit, students should have an opportunity to defend their proposed actions with their research findings in front of the class. This would provide a great opportunity for students to share their learning with the class, reflect upon their growth and next steps, and receive feedback from the teacher and peers.