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Greenhouse S'Mores

Author(s): Nancy P. Moreno, PhD, Barbara Z. Tharp, MS, and Judith Dresden, MS.

Let's Talk About It

This activity allows students to observe that some transparent materials allow light to pass through, but do not let heat escape. It introduces concepts underlying the greenhouse effect and provides background information about climate change.

Add all of the points allotted to each cup treatment. In most cases, the clear cup will receive the most points (result in the most melted chocolate), followed by the white cover, and then the black cover. The foil cover will have the fewest points (least melted chocolate). Because the observations are subjective, there usually will be some discrepancies among the results reported by each group. Use this as an opportunity to mention the importance of conducting an experiment more than once. 

Let each student eat his or her S’More, while you discuss the experiment results with the class. 

Ask students, Which treatment melted the chocolate the most? Which treatment melted the chocolate the least? Why do you think this is? Help students understand that more light energy was able to pass into the clear cup, where it was trapped. Much of this energy was transformed into heat. The cup covered with foil reflected light energy away. The white paper reflected some light energy away. The black paper absorbed more energy than the white paper or the foil.

Funded by the following grant(s)

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH

My Health My World: National Dissemination
Grant Number: 5R25ES009259
The Environment as a Context for Opportunities in Schools
Grant Number: 5R25ES010698, R25ES06932

Houston Endowment Inc.

Foundations for the Future: Capitalizing on Technology to Promote Equity, Access and Quality in Elementary Science Education