One of these enrichment activities looks at global warming, the other at endangered buildings

This week’s primary enrichment activity looks at global warming and asks pupils to design a sunlight reflector to help cool the planet.

This week’s secondary enrichment activity looks at endangered buildings and asks pupils to create a set of guidelines for deciding which should be preserved.

***Primary Enrichment***

KS2: Science

Knowledge skills and understanding Pupils learn about a wider range of living things, materials and phenomena. They begin to make links between ideas and to explain things using simple models and theories. They apply their knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas to familiar phenomena, everyday things and their personal health. They begin to think about the positive and negative effects of scientific and technological developments on the environment and in other contexts.


Although there still remains a lively debate about the causes of global warming, most observers believe that it is human activity that has been the fundamental cause of recent changes in global temperatures. Whatever the cause, the temperature of the Earth has risen by 1 degree fahrenheit (0.5 degrees celsius) over the last 100 years. However, while the global temperature has risen, the amount of sunlight that Earth reflects into space, called ‘albedo’, has increased since 2000. That means less energy is reaching the surface of our planet at a time when the temperature on Earth is rising. Earth’s albedo is measured by recording the amount of sunlight reflected off the Moon from Earth (earthshine). Reflecting light directly back into space, as well as avoiding the heating effect caused by clouds reflecting heat back to the surface of the planet, may be an important factor in reducing the temperature climb on Earth. A cardboard cut-out kangaroo, which measures 32 metres (105 feet) by 18 metres (59 feet), was laid out in the grounds of Monash University in the southern city of Melbourne, Australia as part of a global experiment to measure the amount of light the Earth reflects back to the sun.

‘We call it our kangaroo from space because two satellites flew over (and) what they were doing was measuring the amount of light reflected from our kangaroo,’
said Professor Patricia Vickers-Rich.

‘If something is white it reflects a lot of light, if something is dark it absorbs it, and that will affect the temperature of our atmosphere.’

As one of the tests carried out by teams from around the world working with the US space agency NASA, the ‘kangaroo from space’ was playing a part in informing the debate about global warming.

Some questions for your pupils to consider and discuss:

Ask children to imagine that they have been approached by a team of scientists from the US space agency NASA to design a suitable shape for a sunlight reflector that they can position in their local area to help cool the world. If your children are keen geographers, it might be fun to expand their horizons and let them choose any major desert anywhere in the world to cover.

  • Where would they choose to put their sunlight reflector?
  • Why would they choose that particular location?
  • What shape would they choose to be the most suitable for covering the chosen area of land?


Managing sunlight

Going further

Plan and establish a sheltered cool area within the school grounds that will offer an insight into what effect a lack of direct sunlight can have on temperature levels. Build a reflector screen and have children measure temperatures inside the shelter over a fixed period of, for example, one month. What differences do they notice about plant life, insect activity and the use of the cool place by other pupils and teachers? How do they explain these uses?

Read the story on baffled scientists

Read about the the effects of clouds

Read the article ‘Global warming heats up’

Read the space kangaroo story

Learning and teaching Scotland

5-14 Curriculum Learning in science provides children with a context within which they can develop the skills associated with investigations. Through their application children will learn to deal with more complex concepts and scientific knowledge.

International Baccalaureate

Primary Years Programme, Curriculum framework: How the world works.

***Secondary Enrichment***

KS4 Citizenship

Developing skills of enquiry and communication Students should be taught to:

  • research a topical political, spiritual, moral, social or cultural issue, problem or event by analysing information from different sources, including ICT-based sources, showing an awareness of the use and abuse of statistics
  • express, justify and defend orally and in writing a personal opinion about such issues, problems or events
  • contribute to group and exploratory class discussions, and take part in formal debates.

Significant buildings

This month the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a non-profit organisation, will announce the 10 sites that will make up the 2008 list of America’s most endangered historic buildings and spaces.

‘Historic buildings in cities all over the country, they are being changed and destroyed,‘ said the trust’s president, Richard Moe, as reported by the New York Times.

The list includes a hotel, part of the Lower East Side of New York, a charity hospital in New Orleans, a theatre and an early cinema. In addition, there is the entire Californian state park system, which, although not a building in the normally accepted sense, is a built asset and, as it is under serious threat, has been included. The idea behind the list is to point out the circumstances of these special elements of the built environment and to highlight the need to secure them. Meanwhile, in Berlin, a cultural landmark and building of architectural significance, the Tempelhof Airport, is having its future discussed. The building is emotionally important for many Berliners and those who remember the Berlin Airlift of 60 years ago. Described as ‘the mother of all airports’ by the architect Norman Foster, Tempelhof was one of the world’s first commercial airfields. It belongs at the heart of the modern era − a controversial building and one that, if correctly ‘recycled’, could have significant benefit for the economic wellbeing of Berlin.

Some questions for your pupils to consider and discuss:

  • What makes a building special?
  • What would be included in a checklist of guidelines for whether a building should be preserved for future generations?
  • Limiting the list to 10 ‘rules’, create the guidelines and apply it to local buildings that have been preserved or are at risk of being demolished.
  • What can be learned about planning decisions from applying your list to actual decisions made about preserving buildings in your area?
  • What local buildings would theoretically be saved if your guidelines where to be applied?


To knock down or not to knock down buildings

Going further

Making contingency plans is an important task in many areas of modern life. Having constructed a plan and set of criteria for preserving buildings and areas of the built environment, what criteria would your group decide on for buildings that should be destroyed, removed or completely remodeled, rather than saved or preserved. Demand for building and recreational land is high and, on an island such as the UK, space is scarce and needs to be carefully managed. Create a set of guidelines that would, when applied to a building or built environment such as a park, determine whether the building should be destroyed to make way for something else.

Read the article ‘Landmark Hotel among Sites Seen as in Peril’

Read about the National trust for historical preservation

Read the Tempelhof Airport article

Watch the Tempelhof Airport (slideshow)

Learning and teaching Scotland

‘Education for Citizenship in Scotland’, Learning and Teaching Scotland 2002, describes citizenship as being about: the exercise of rights and responsibilities within communities at local, national and global levels; and making informed decisions, and taking thoughtful and responsible action, locally and globally.’

International Baccalaureate.

Diploma Programme curriculum: ‘The arts’ and ‘Individuals in society’.

This e-bulletin issue was first published in May 2008

About the author: John Senior is the author of Enrichment Activties for G&T Pupils. He is a teacher with 26 years’ experience of teaching Gifted and Talented children, working with parents and carers as a consultant on high ability, and peer mentoring.