Earth Science Unit Study - Biomes

Week 11: We tested different ground materials to find which types are naturally cool and which are naturally warm.

Plants and animals each have their own preferred climate. Some like the damp heat found in tropical rain forests, while others prefer the dry heat found in deserts. Biomes of Our Earth: Major Life Zones is a 25 minute video which explains how latitude effects land and describes the life and characteristics of the major biomes.

Going up in elevation is much like going north in latitude when it comes to biomes. Tropical rain forests are typically found near the equator (0 latitude) and near sea level in elevation, where as tundras, a cold treeless area of land, is typically found high on mountain tops and above the arctic circle. The other biomes such as chaparral and temperate rain forests are found at mid latitudes and mid elevations.

We read several picture books set in different biomes before performing our experiment.

North Pole South Pole
The Magic School Bus: All Dried Up: A Book About Deserts
In the Rain Forest: A Book about Rain Forest Ecology (Magic School Bus)

How does ground cover affect the temperature of the environment? This experiment was based on chapter 25 of Janice VanCleave's A+ Projects in Earth Science.

  • Shoe boxes
  • Ground materials such as sand, rocks, mud, grass, leaves
  • Thermometers we used Exo Terra Liquid Crystal Thermometer - Although they didn't register temperatures below 69 degrees, they were cheap and worked well for this project.
Three shoe boxes were filled with different ground materials. One was filled with sand, the second soil and the third grass.

The boxes were placed in the sun and thermometers were placed on top of the ground materials. They were read every 15 minutes over the course of an hour. Have you ever been at a beach that contains grass and sand? When stepping onto the sand from the grass, feet can sometimes burn with the heat. Sand covers the desert, and not surprisingly, sand registered the hottest.

If you're surfing for educational project ideas, check out these blog hops.


  1. What a great idea, I didn't see this one when the children and I were studying biomes earlier this year....there is just so much great stuff out there

  2. This is such a simple science experiment, but so useful and memorable. Love that kind! Thanks for sharing at After School!


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