Physics laws and climate change

The modern world lives in a time of great change.
Almost every day, in some part of the world, in some part of our beautiful planet Earth, there are floods, fires, disappearing ice masses, …… extreme weather conditions.

** Knowledge of the laws of physics has enabled human civilization to progress.
Starting from the invention of the wheel, through internal combustion engines, to the use of renewable energy sources.

** The laws of radiation for the absolute black body, which encompasses the physics curriculum, understandably illustrate the factors that contribute to climate change.
Organized in small groups, by considering the law of radiation for the absolute black body, the Stefan-Boltzmann law, and the Wien law, students develop an awareness of climate change and the contribution of modern human life.

Learning objectives are:

  • Raise awareness of the impact of climate change on everyday life
  • Connect the laws of physics with real phenomena and facts
  • To connect the educational contents and outcomes of the Physics curriculum with real phenomena
  • Improve 4 C skills
  • Use of new technologies, such as Augmented Reality_AR
  • Application of new digital tools, such as Padlet, Mentimeter, Infographic

Student activities during classes are organized using different social forms of work: 1. frontally, 2. individually, 3. in pairs, 4. in small groups, and 5. together, such as Think-Pair-Share, Stirring the mix, Mini-conference.

** Teaching activities provide students with equal involvement, development, and application of collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and communication.

One step of the activity is the introductory part: Frontally, the students review the video together and at the same time.

** Frontally, review a video, augmented reality for the example of climatic disasters: Hurricane Florence Augmented Reality:

The video is on the link:

Consequences of climate change

** In the first round, students individually think and argue what they saw in the video.

For example:
1. What did they notice in the video?
2. What are the consequences for human life and nature?

** Then, the students join in groups of 2. After explaining their individual thoughts, they try to reach a consensus.
In the third round, the opinions of individual groups and discussions at the level of the whole class are presented.

** Observing AR presentations enables students to collaborate and communicate, first by discussing each other in pairs, then by exchanging their ideas and thoughts in small groups.

The second step of the activity

Students discuss a topic in small groups. Afterward, one student moves to another group to explain what they have learned.

1. To observe the flame of a lighter from the aspect of color:

The flame of fire is visible on the link:

2. To connect their previous knowledge about the connection between a particular color and wavelength.

3. In which parts of the flame are the temperatures higher? In parts closer or farther from the flame source itself?

4. Which wavelength colors, larger or smaller, are in the area with higher temperature values?

5. After the discussion in small groups, one member from each group moves to another group, and exchanges observations and conclusions.

6. Students argue about the phenomenon.

7. Student notes their arguments in the padlet.

The next step is to analyze the data

** Students analyze data and create an infographic poster that visualizes and summarizes the core components as well as the logical relations between the components. ** By using relevant data on the intensity of solar radiation for different conditions, and by applying the physical law, Stefan_Boltzmann’s law, students create a connection between real phenomena and content from the educational curriculum of Physics.
By creating this task and implementing this activity, students are enabled to collaborate and communicate.
The values of known and calculated intensity and temperature data are plotted graphically.

** The learning product can be viewed at the link:

** In this activity, students develop and apply their creativity. First of all, they argue and come to a conclusion, therefore, they develop critical skills.

I. In small groups, students analyze data on characteristic values ​​of solar radiation intensity:

a) which reaches the Earth,
b) absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere without greenhouse gases,
c) which the Earth’s atmosphere absorbs in the presence of man-made greenhouse gases.

II. From the known values ​​of intensity, according to Stefan-Boltzmann’s law, they calculate, for each example, the temperature.

III. For comparison and analysis of data, students calculate the corresponding radiation intensity for the characteristic values ​​of water freezing temperature 0 ° C and water boiling point 100 ° C.

IV. The values ​​of the pairs of temperature and intensity are plotted in a (t, I) graph. Graph showing the interdependence of intensity and temperature.

** The graph shows the exponential function.
This means that at high temperatures only a small increase contributes to a large increase in intensity. That is, with a slight further increase in greenhouse gases, there is a large increase in intensity and temperature.

Students are required to present their group project findings in a mini‐conference.

In conclusion, within the observed topic “Laws of Physics and Climate Change”, in this section, the teacher presents a video presentation of global warming, available at the link:

About me:

My name is Slavica Bernatović. I am a physics teacher at the Technical School in Slavonski Brod, Croatia.

I organize student activities using innovative methods of work. I’m a physics teacher working in a secondary vocational school (upper). Whenever we have the necessary materials and accessories, students research the laws of physics. That is with the intention of connecting them with real-life, technique, and modern technology.