How is Coastal Temperature Influenced by the Great Lakes and the Ocean?

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In this two-part lesson, learners discover how large bodies of water can serve as a heat source or sink at different times and how proximity to water moderates climate along the coast. The activities' combination of laboratory investigation, map study, and graphing applies different learning styles and provides practice in important science processes.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Four thermometers
  • One container of dark soil and one container of water (The containers should hold equal amounts, and the soil and water should be left out overnight to come to room temperature)
  • Two 30-cm rulers
  • Masking tape
  • Ring stand
  • Lamp (at least 150 W) with reflector
  • Safety goggles for each group member
  • Graph paper
  • Figures 3-6


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Processes
      • Weather and Climate
    • Earth Structure
      • Oceans and Water
  • Physical Sciences
    • Heat and Thermodynamics
      • Heat and Temperature
      • Heat Transfer
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

Includes assesments for student learning:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Fortner, Roseanne W. ; Mayer, Victor J.


  • All rights reserved, R.W. Fortner and V.J. Mayer, 2009

Funding Sources:

  • National Science Foundation, 0827983
  • National Science Foundation, 0828142
  • National Science Foundation, 0827953
  • NOAA National Sea Grant
  • Office of Naval Research
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration