Sections    Wednesday September 19th, 2018
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Students use technology to study Valley’s urban heat island


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  • Michelle Reese/ Higley Unified School District

Urban Heat House

Sixth grade math students at Chaparral Elementary School looked recently into the topic of the “Urban Heat Island Phenomenon” experienced in the Valley.

Under the direction of Mrs. Tina Quinonez and her ASU student teacher, Ms. Cassie Jones, students studied the topic online, researched heat readings around the school and then created the ideal home design for the Valley’s high temperatures.

Students use technology to study Valley’s urban heat island UrbanHeatHouseInside

Chaparral Elementary School students measure the temperature outside their model home during a study of the ‘Urban Heat Island Phenomenon. Photo courtesy Chaparral Elementary School

Mrs. Quinonez and Ms. Jones were trained through Arizona State University’s SEED Program with a goal in mind of educating students in the area of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

“Each day was carefully planned with an emphasis in using and applying the engineering design process,”Mrs. Quinonez said. “The first day was all about research. The students focused on learning as much as they could about this phenomenon. With the use of the iPads in class, these kids read articles about this topic, viewed thermal images of the city and then went outside to test surface temperatures of different objects around our school. The next step was to take all this research and data to come up with a design for a model house to test how cool their house would keep the inside air temperature compared to the surface temperature of their house along with the outside air temperature. After coming up with a thoughtful and planned-out design, these sixth graders were taken to the lab to begin building their model homes.”

Students expressed their joy and satisfaction with the experience.

“It was a great learning experience to find out how asphalt releases so much heat in the evening,” Angelique Woods said. “I thought using the infrared thermometers were cool and fascinating to use.”

“It is important we know about this because the more asphalt and concrete there is, the more heat is released,” David Derouin said. “This can affect our surroundings.”

The house building was a favorite activity for many students. Using different thermometers, students could gauge the air temperature inside and outside their models, as well as the surface temperature outside their models.

“We learned the affects that could happen to our city, and we built houses to help us see the effect color and insulation has to temperature,” Jesus Vasquez said.

Fellow student Nathan Mezaros agreed.

“The Urban Heat Island Project helped me understand that this affects us because we live in this type of area,” he said. “I enjoyed that we were able to build this STEM part of this learning activity.”

“After recording their data, they were challenged by displaying their information in a line graph to show the different models and restraints compared to the rest of the class,” Mrs. Quinonez said. “The sixth-grade math classes were able to learn and actively research the types of things that engineers look at when trying to positively affect and address the concerns of our Urban Heat Island.”