There are layers above the Earth, just like there are inside it. Our atmosphere is comprised of five layers; troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere and exosphere. Over the past 60 years scientists have done extensive studies on the various layers. In the 1950's Joseph Kittinger performed a series of high altitude jumps. Project Excelsior was an important precursor to space exploration. From 19 miles above the ground, in the stratosphere, he made his final successful jump.
Oxygen fills our atmosphere, but it hasn't always been that way. Over 2.5 billion years ago tiny cyanobacteria were the first known living organisms. They were able to convert the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere into oxygen. Today, oxygen is produced by green plants which contain an organ which was derived from cyanobacteria.
After watching the video, we did several activities to learn more about our atmosphere.
How the Earth Works (How It Works) is packed with experiments and ideas to accompany an Earth Science Study. It is only one of the numerous resources we are using.
Activity 1: Atmospheric Layers - Blankets
Activity 2: Air Expands as it Rises
Activity 3: Air Pressure
Empty Water Bottle
Even though air cannot be seen it is a powerful force. Our bodies are uniquely designed to withstand the pressure. To visually see the power of air pressure, hot air was cooled inside a plastic bottle. Because the air was sealed inside the bottle, the amount of air could not change.
As the hot air cooled, it took up less space. When this happened the weight of the outside air was strong enough to crush the plastic bottle allowing us to see the power of air pressure.
Be sure to come back next week when we make an anemometer (device to measure wind speed).
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