Heat Islands and Edge Effects

Author(s): Jon Fisher and Aldo Cos
Probeware / Instrumentation
SED 695B; Fall 2005

Research Questions:

Where are the hottest places on campus?

Can I find the greatest temperature difference over the smallest distance?

Standards addressed:

6th Grade Earth Science

Students know energy can be carried from one place to another by heat flow or by waves, including water, light and sound waves, or by moving objects.

Students know heat flows in solids by conduction (which involves no flow of matter) and in fluids by conduction and by convection (which involves flow of matter).

Students know convection currents distribute heat in the atmosphere and ocean


Independent variable
Dependent variables
  temperature none  

Pasco temperature probe

Pasco Passport Data Logger

Meter stick/Trundle Wheel

Clipboard/School Map


1. Obtain the materials necessary to perform this activity.

2. Have students predict where they think the hottest palces and coldest places on campus are.

3. Students go out into the campus and take temperature measurements. Describe the locations using landmarks from the campus. Measure distance and compass location in degrees from the landmarks.

4. Students seek out the place where the temperature difference is the greatest over the smallest area.

5. If enough data is collected and plotted on the school map, then isotherms can be drawn on the map.

The data collected by each group can be assembled and a class discussion about where the students thought the temperatures would be higher or lower can lead to interesting insights.
The data requires information about location with a reference to a known point, the height above ground, and the temperature.
This is the stainless steel temperature probe from Pasco. This probe hooks into the Pasport datalogger which can be downloaded into the computer after collecting your data in the field.

The Pasport is a portable data collecting device. Simply attach the probe to the Pasport and start collecting data.

References & Links:

Isotherm map lesson for middle schoolers

Urban heat islands

The edge effect in forests

Pasco catalog