Sixth graders in Tawnicia Stocking’s class start their day by gathering behind a single music stand. On signal from their teacher, the students begin. However, despite what one would normally expect in this setting, no one sings. Instead, they raise three infrared thermometers, point at the target affixed to the stand, and begin their science lesson.

At each time interval, the students race to record the three different temperature readings each infrared thermometers picks up from the heat gun Stocking points at the target. They continue this process every 20 seconds until their data tables are filled. Once complete, the students set their thermometers down and perform a quick analysis of the information they have collected so far.

Before the next round begins, Mrs. Stocking slants the target further back to simulate a different tilt of the earth. Again, the students pick up their thermometers and record a second set of temperatures. They repeat this process one more time before the activity comes to a close.

Mrs. Stocking explains that the data collected by her students represents the effects of direct and indirect light on the earth’s temperature, resulting in different seasons. By pointing a heat gun at a music stand slanted at varying degrees, we can see how the temperature changes from equator to the poles of the earth.

The data collected from this science activity will also carry over to their math lesson as they learn to calculate the mean, median and mode for the different temperatures. Not only is this activity fun and engaging, it also helped fulfill a core standard for science.

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