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Sand or Rock? Finding Out from 1,000 km

This activity quantifies an experience many students have had visiting a beach, or even playing in a sandbox. A summer afternoon walk, barefoot, across sand can burn one's feet. Often people take a few steps and then bury their feet in the cooler subsurface sand as they make their way across the beach. After sunset, the surface sand cools rapidly and buried feet are warmed by the deeper sand that has not cooled off yet. Stopping to rest on an empty fire ring, the beach walker notices how warm the concrete ring is long after the Sun has gone down. Students explore these effects using laboratory thermometers, and can use an IR thermometer if one is available.


Stephen J. Edberg

Date Accepted: 2008-03-17 Grade Group: Primary (K-2) Benchmarks: S15.3.2 S15.3.3 S15.3.4 S15.4.4 Keywords: thermal infrared thermal mass thermal inertia sand rock thermometer infrared Microsoft Word: 11_14_07_1.docx PDF Document: 11_14_07_1.pdf