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What is a "Model"?

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    Colorado State University

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What is a "Model"?

In this activity, learners simulate the behavior of the atmosphere. Learners working in groups of four will represent "cells" of the model (Earth, lower atmosphere, upper atmosphere, and space) and exchange energy with each other. Learners will observe how temperature fluctuates in the model. Use this activity to introduce learners to the inner-workings of the atmosphere as well as how scientists use models to understand abstract phenomena.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Model, Simulation


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Chips or tokens
  • 4 copies of the Heat Exchange Model Sheet


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Processes
      • Weather and Climate
    • Earth Structure
      • Atmosphere
  • Physical Sciences
    • Heat and Thermodynamics
      • Heat and Temperature
      • Heat Transfer
      • Thermodynamics and Entropy
    • Energy

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


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All Rights Reserved, Little Shop of Physics, ©2009


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