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Database Provider


CLEAN, UCAR Center for Science Education


K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th


Science, Social Studies, Earth and Space Sciences, Geography

Resource Type

  • Videos, 44 seconds, CC, Subtitles

Regional Focus


What Makes Cities So Hot?

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  • This video examines urban heat islands, what causes this phenomenon, and what strategies can be employed to reduce heat in these areas.
  • Students will learn that urban heat islands lack vegetation, which leads to increased heat in these areas, but reflective roofs and tree planting can help cool these areas by a noticeable amount.
Teaching Tips


  • The concise nature of the video and the use of animation will keep students engaged.
  • This video also explores how asphalt and concrete interact with the sun's heat.

Additional Prerequisites

  • It may be helpful if students understand how air conditioners and other machines contribute to increases in air temperature.
  • It may benefit students to know what an "urban" area is and how it's different from a "suburban" or "rural" area.
  • Before watching the video, younger students may enjoy going outside and feeling the difference in heat between grass and asphalt sitting in the sun.
  • Teachers may need to address misconceptions and express to students that urban heat islands are not necessarily landforms surrounded by water.


  • Teachers can use this video as a conceptual introduction to climate change adaptation strategies focused on urban areas.
  • Older students can discuss how some groups, such as people of color or those in poverty, are disproportionately affected by the urban heat island effect and other effects of climate change.
  • To assess prior knowledge, the teacher can ask the class questions about urban heat islands before playing the video.
  • Using this video to build background knowledge, the teacher can explore other topics with students, such as waste heat and carbon sinks.
  • Some students may benefit from captions and slowing the video, as it has a lot of information presented quickly.
Scientist Notes

This resource is from the CLEAN collection. “The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness.”


This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • Science
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-3. Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.
      • MS-ESS3-4. Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems.
    • PS3: Energy
      • K-PS3-1. Make observations to determine the effect of sunlight on Earth’s surface.
  • English Language Arts
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • SL.II.1.2 Ask and answer questions about key details in a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.
      • SL.II.3.2 Determine the main ideas and supporting details of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
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