Infrared Yellowstone Lesson Plans

We are used to seeing the world around us in visible light. However, there are many other types of light, including x-rays, gamma rays, ultraviolet, infrared, microwaves and radio waves, which we cannot see with our eyes. Each of these types of light gives us a unique view of the world around us. In this lesson we will examine infrared images take at Yellowstone National Park. All objects emit infrared. The amount of infrared emitted depends on the object's temperature. Hot objects emit more infrared than cold ones do. Infrared images give us special information that we cannot get from visible light pictures. In these lessons a special infrared camera was used to create infrared images which will be used to help students learn about infrared light. Infrared images of geothermal features and everyday objects will provide students with a unique and interesting view of the infrared world. In addition, the Infrared Yellowstone activities will give students a new perspective and new view of the interesting features of Yellowstone National Park.

In 1872 Yellowstone National Park was established as the world's first national park. It is located in northwest Wyoming and extends into Montana and Idaho. Covering 2,219,791 acres, it is about the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined! Yellowstone National Park is in a huge volcanic basin which was the site of several massive volcanic eruptions, the last of which occurred about 600,000 years ago. Yellowstone National Park is a region of incredible beauty, abundant wildlife and amazing geothermal features. Among the geothermal features found in Yellowstone are numerous geysers, hot springs, bubbling mud pots, fumaroles and hot spring terraces. These features can be explored in a unique way through infrared imaging.

Infrared images show the relative distribution of heat as a false color map and can reveal information not found in visible light images. By comparing and contrasting visible light images and infrared images, learners will discover the importance of using different regions of the electromagnetic spectrum to study objects. Though not expressed in this particular lesson, this infrared exploration can be extended into exploring additional applications of infrared imaging on Earth and in space. Viewing objects using different types of light gives us a more complete understanding of these objects.

General Background Information for the Instructor
Teachers Guide to the Infrared | Geothermal Features | Heat and Temperature | Applications of Infrared Imaging

Exploring Infrared Imaging
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Learners investigate and discuss infrared images of various day-to-day objects like toasters, hairdryers, and running water to learn about infrared imaging.

Infrared Yellowstone Lesson 1 - The Invisible Yellowstone National Park
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Learners explore the differences between visible light images and infrared light images of geysers, mudpots, hot springs, and hot springs terraces located at Yellowstone National Park. The explorations focus on compare and contrast skills, observation skills, and learning about infrared images. By using the features of Yellowstone National Park as the backdrop they will also gain a basic understanding of some characteristics of geothermal features, though the geology is not the focus of this lesson.

Infrared Yellowstone Lesson 2 - What's Hot in Yellowstone National Park
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Learners discover new perspectives on fascinating geothermal features like geysers, mudpots, hot springs, and hot spring terraces. Already familiar with the basic characteristics of these features, they explore the geology of Yellowstone National Park in a new light, infrared light! During this lesson, they will gain an understanding of infrared light and infrared imaging as well as deepen their content knowledge on geothermal features.

Why did NASA/SSC Create an Infrared Yellowstone Site?

Glossary


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