navigate to thirteen or ed online

Lesson Plans

This lesson is written by Master Teacher Alexander Sabatino, Jr.
OverviewProcedure for teachersStudent Resources and Materials
Grade Level
Time Alloment
 Five 40-minute periods


This is an interactive Internet lesson in which students examine the nature of infrared light and its applications. Students will discover infrared by repeating Herschel's experiment, learn the relationship between frequency and wavelength, and describe how images are created in infrared light. They will also learn how infrared energy influences climate by studying thunderstorms. As part of an ongoing process, students will apply what they learn by monitoring daily GOES satellite infrared images for severe thunderstorm activity and, in conjunction with the U.S. Weather Service, keep a journal of their severity and location. This lesson utilizes reading, writing, and mathematical skills in an interdisciplinary format.

Learning Activities

Students will be able to:

  • Describe how the sun heats the earth

  • Show the relationship between frequency and wavelength

  • Show how infrared light fits in the electromagnetic spectrum

  • Explain the nature of infrared light

  • Explain why infrared and visible light pictures are different

  • Show the beneficial uses of infrared light

  • Explain how thunderstorms are formed

  • Explain how thunderstorms increase in severity

  • Read an infrared satellite weather map

  • Use infrared weather maps to predict severe weather


New York State Learning Standards, grades K-12

Standard 2: Mathematics, Science, and Technology
Students will access, generate, process, and transfer information using appropriate technologies.

Standard 7: Mathematics, Science, and Technology
Students will apply the knowledge and thinking skills of mathematics, science, and technology to address real-life problems and make informed decisions.

Standard 1: English Language Arts
Students will listen, speak, read, and write for information and understanding. As listeners and readers, students will collect data, facts, and ideas; discover relationships, concepts, and generalizations; and use knowledge generated from oral, written, and electronically produced texts. As speakers and writers, they will use oral and written language that follows the accepted conventions of the English language to acquire, interpret, apply, and transmit information.

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics grades K-12

Number and Operations
Students will understand numbers, ways of representing numbers, relationships among numbers, and number systems.

Students will understand patterns, relations, and functions.

Students will understand measurable attributes of objects and the units, systems, and processes of measurement.

Students will recognize and apply mathematics in contexts outside of mathematics.

International Society for Technology in Education, K-12

Students use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources.

Students use technology resources for solving problems and making informed decisions.

National Science Education Standards, K-12

Students should develop understanding and abilities aligned with the following concepts and processes:

  1. Systems, order, and organization

  2. Evidence, models, and explanation

  3. Constancy, change, and measurement
Media Components

Web Sites:

You will need the Macromedia Shockwave Player plug-in to view some sites. Macromedia allows free downloads for this plug-in.

NTTI National Teacher Training Institute Lesson Plans
A great list of lesson plans ready for the classroom. Here is where you can get the GOES infrared image organizers for the INFRARED HOT lesson.

Discovering Infrared, The Herschel Experiment
Herschel experiment and some explanations, from Caltech.

Amazing Space--Star Light, Star Bright
Wonderful graphics and interaction as students learn about light waves and the electromagnetic spectrum. Shows infrared and its place among the other radiations.

Seeing Our World in a Different Light
Shows how to interpret colors of infrared photography. Great list of areas where infrared is used. IPAC (Infrared Processing and Analysis Center, Caltech/JPL) is NASA's Infrared Astrophysics Data Center.

Satellite Data Page of the National Center for Atmospheric Research - Research Application Program
Real-time GOES infrared images in color of U.S. weather. An interactive U.S. map is given, presenting image choices of the contiguous U.S. or selected areas. A choice to animate weather patterns is also given.

Interactive Weather Network of the U.S. Weather Service
From the U.S. National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, this site refreshes every 5 minutes to give up-to-date meteorological maps and warnings. Other pages refresh every 60 seconds. The National Warnings section provides up-to-date bulletins about tornadoes and other severe weather. Contains an interactive map showing warnings in individual states.


  1. Student Organizers are provided with this lesson. They must be copied and distributed to the students at the appropriate points throughout the lesson.

  2. An atlas of the United States

  3. Since students will keep journals, there are three possible venues: electronic (using a word-processor open while students work); booklets; or student notebooks.

  4. For the Herschel Experiment, the number of setups depends on student grouping. Each setup contains: one box with glass prism and holder, three alcohol thermometers, tape, wood block, black paint, white paper to cover the floor of the box. Teachers are suggested to consult the Herschel Experiment (see Web sites) prior to creating setups.

  5. Projection device. Either opaque, overhead transparency, or Internet projector.

  6. If overhead projector is used, ink-jet transparencies are needed.