This lesson allows students to visualize the emission spectra associated with particular temperatures, to understand how Planck’s Law can be used to plot blackbody curves of objects with different temperatures, and to learn the relationship between temperature and peak wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum. The activity also introduces the topic of planetary temperatures of objects in the solar system and shows the greenhouse effect of Earth’s atmosphere. Thus, the use of this toolkit allows you to integrate the teaching of a climate science topic with a core topic in Physics.

Grade Level: High School, undergraduate
Discipline: Physics
Topics: Plannks Law, Wien's Law, Blackbody Radiation, Stefan-Boltzmann Law, Relationship between Temperature and Peak Wavelength of the Electromagnetic Spectrum, Planetary Temperatures as a function of solar energy received, Greenhouse Effect of Earth’s Atmosphere
Climate Topic: Planetary Climates, Planetary Energy Balance, The greenhouse effect
Location: Global
Languages: This Lesson Plan is available in various languages as, English, العَرَبِيَّة, Brazilian Portuguese, Français, हिन्दी, Italian, ಕನ್ನಡ ,Kiswahili, मराठी, മലയാളം, Español, தமிழ் .
Duration: 120-150 min

Learning Outcomes

The tools in this lesson plan will enable students to:

  • apply Planck’s Law to plot the blackbody curve of an object at a specific temperature
  • apply the Stefan-Boltzmann Law to determine the surface temperature of a blackbody
  • calculate the surface temperature of the Earth based on the solar energy flux
  • explain the effect of the greenhouse effect of the Earth’s atmosphere on the surface temperature of the Earth