Why Are Growing Cities Hotter?

This lesson has students explore what land use changes are happening and how changes in surface color affects temperatures in cities.

Context for Use

This is the third lesson in the Climate Resiliency Education Middle School Climate Unit.

A satellite image is shown over the same image in infrared, showing that the paved sidewalks and roads retain more heat than homes and vegetation.

Goals Header
What Students Will Do

Students will better understand the concept of albedo.

Teaching Materials


  1. (15 minutes) Consensus Building Discussion: Reorient students in the storyline.
  2. (35 minutes) Picture comparisons: Compare pairs of pictures of areas that have increased in population over the last 30 or so years.
  3. (50 minutes) Color and Temperature (Parts A & B): Try to replicate color and temperature connections in the lab.  
  4. (15 minutes) Reflection: Debrief on the color and temperature lab.
  5. (10 minutes Brainstorm: Generate ideas for next steps in the investigation.


Illustration of two people high-fiving in a work environment

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