Lesson Title: Atmospheric Layers
Curriculum Area: Science
Technology Strand: Spreadsheet
Grade Level: 7
Essential Question: What are the layers of the atmosphere and how do they differ from each other?
A Activity Summary Students will be working in pairs using the Glencoe Science Voyages, Exploring the Life, Earth, and Physical Sciences CD and an Excel file called "Atomspheric Data" to research the layers of the atmosphere, their phenomena and how they differ. Students will use an internet site to convert from metric to standard measurement.
C Curriculum Science
3.01 Explain the composition, properties and structure of the atmosphere:
  • Mixture of gases.
  • Stratified layers.
  • Each layer has distinct properties.
  • As altitude increases, air pressure decreases.
  • Equilibrium.
T Technology Spreadsheet
3.05 Modify/create spreadsheets and graphs/charts to analyze and interpret data for content assignments.  
Activating Strategies
  • Show the first slide of the slide show called "Layers".
  • Ask students to quickly illustrate their concept of the atmosphere.
    Show the second slide.
  • Today we will study atmospheric layers and we will see that the atmosphere is in layers much like the layers on a hamburger.
Technology Vocabulary: Atmos
Detailed Technology Instructions:
Cognitive Teaching Strategies
  • Continue the PowerPoint slide show called "Layers" to introduce the layers of the atmosphere. (Teachers: Be sure to print out the slide show notes to use as you teach.) Refer to the word wall as you introduce vocabulary.
  • Essential vocabulary for lesson: atmosphere, Troposphere, Stratosphere, Mesosphere, Thermosphere, Exosphere, Phenomenon, altitude, Celsius, Fahrenheit.
  • Pair students. Students should work at adjacent computers.
  • The teacher will explain the process of one student using the Glencoe Science CD Chapter 2 to find the Temp in Centigrade, the Phenomenon and the Thickness of Layer km, while the other student records the data in the spreadsheet.
  • At this time one student in the pair will open the Excel file called "AtmosphericData" on his/her computer.
  • Teacher will model how to launch the Glencoe CD for the second student in the pair.

Directions to open the Glencoe CD:
  1. Launch the CD.
  2. Click the Explorations button.
  3. Select Chapter 2.

  • The teacher will discuss the information contained in "What is the structure of Earth's atmopshere?" on the left hand side of the window.
  • The teacher will explain that: The right hand side of the window lists the layers of the atmosphere.
  • The yellow ruler on the left side of the window gives the altitude in kilometers. The red triangle on the ruler will be moved to the key altitudes given on the "AtmosphericData" spreadsheet.
  • Zero is ground level. What is the temperature there? (See the Temperature(C) box in the lower right corner.) Record it in the spreadsheet.
  • Drag the red triangle to 5km. Click the "LAUNCH" button to launch the balloon/rocket. Record the Temperature(C) for that altitude in the spreadsheet.
  • Notice that "SHOW PHENOMENON" button is now active. Click on it, listen to the audio and record the phenomenon in the spreadsheet. (Point out that weather occurs at ground level too, so record weather as the phenomenon at O km Altitude.)
  • Explain that they will continue this process for all the "Key Altitudes" listed on the spreadsheet.
  • Students will use the yellow ruler to determine the "Thickness of the Layers km".

  • Point out that they will NOT complete the "Thickness of Layers Miles" or the "Temp F" in this lesson.
  • In the extension activity students will use the following website to convert the temp from Centigrade to Fahrenheit and the Thickness of the Layers from Kilometers to Miles.
    http://www.digitaldutch.com/unitconverter/index.htm and enter the data in their "AtmospericData" spreadsheet.
Summary Strategies
Paired students will complete the Exit Slip called "Atmospheric Layers Exit Slip". They will share their answers with the class.
Click for directions on how to download files on a Windows computer. 
  1. PowerPoint Slide Show named layers.ppt.
    Use this file to print out the teacher notes.
  2. Launch the file.
  3. Go to file and choose print.
  4. Print What:
  5. Use the drop down arrow to select notes pages.
  6. Click OK.

Microsoft PowerPoint File

…or... layers.ppt
Show this file to the students.

Microsoft Word Files
Vocabulary List
Show this file to the students.

Word Wall file

Glencoe Science Voyages, Exploring the Life, Earth, and Physical Sciences. Chapter 2, What Is the Structure of Earth's Atmosphere? CD must be installed before teaching this lesson.

Microsoft Excel Files
Student Excel data file
Show this file to the students.

KeyAtmosphericData.xls Excel answer key

Microsoft Word Files
Summary Strategy
Re-teaching and Enrichment Activities
Once data has been collected students will work together to convert Centigrade to Fahrenheit and Kilometers to miles using the web site:

Create a chart showing the temperature differences.

Directions for creating the chart
  1. Highlight cells A5-A12.
  2. Hold down the control key and highlight cells F5-F12.
  3. Click on the Chart Wizard tool on the standard toolbar.
  4. Choose "line" under the Chart type.
  5. Click "Next," and click "next" again.
  6. Click on the chart title and name the chart.
  7. Click "Next" and choose "As object in".
  8. Click "Finish".
  9. Resize, if necessary.

The concept for this lesson plan was submitted by 
Maude  Caudle
Prescott Technology Center, Data last modified: 12/24/2006