BOOMbox at Home: Summer around the World

The Northern Lights in bright green and fuschia spread across the sky, with pine trees lining the bottom of the photo with snow on the ground.

This week we’re exploring summers around the world. Many of us have not been able to travel recently, but we can still visit far away places from the safety of our own homes.

Is it Summer where You are From?

Right now it’s very hot! There’s lots of sunlight, and the air feels warm. This means we can play outside, and flowers can ripen into the fruits and vegetables that we eat.

Why is there so much sunlight and warmth right now when it was so cold only a few months ago? It's because here on Earth, we have seasons. Read more about the Earth’s tilt and how it creates the seasons. If you have a flashlight (a phone light will work) and a ball (even a round fruit), you can explore the rotation of the Earth for yourself. 

When exploring the Earth's rotation around the sun, did you notice how different parts of the planet get different amounts of light at one time? This means that right now, people around the world are experiencing different seasons! People who live north of the Arctic Circle in places like Utqiaġvik, Alaska, or Longyearbyen, Norway are getting nonstop sunlight because of the midnight sun. On the opposite side of the planet, the penguins on Antarctica have full on darkness because of the polar night. People who live in countries on the southern hemisphere are experiencing the coldness of winter, and people who live close to the equator are experiencing the same warm weather that they get year round.

Try asking your family members, friends, and neighbors where they're from, and if it's summer there. Print out a world map or a globe and record their answers by coloring in the country.

Cooling down around the World

When it’s hot, some of us choose to turn on the fan, visit an indoor mall, or eat some ice cream. It’s a great way to cool down. Let’s find out how different people around the world stay cool when the weather is hot. 

In countries along the equator, like Malaysia or Brazil, the warm weather can be very humid. That means that there is lots of water in the air. If you travel to these countries, you might see people using fans and wearing light clothes made of cotton. This helps increase air flow, so people cool down faster. 

In places like California and the south of Australia, where the summers can be very hot and dry, you might see people eating popsicles and going for a swim. Touching cold things can help people cool down. Try touching different objects around the house. What feels cool and what feels warm? Do metal pots feel colder than the clothes in your closet? They’re all the same temperature, but some things feel colder because they are made of materials that transfer heat very well. This means that when you touch a metal pot, the heat in your body is moving out of you and into the metal pot, making you feel cooler. 

In countries like Egypt, where there is a lot of sun, you might see people wearing long clothing and head coverings. This helps block out the heat of the sun and keeps people cooler. Other ways to hide from the heat of the sun include wearing hats, putting curtains in your windows and finding shade under a tree.

Why do these different methods work? They work because of heat transfer. Heat moves in many different ways. Learn more by watching a video about heat transfer, read about how heat moves, or go more in depth and learn about fire as thermal conduction, convection, and radiation. After you’ve learned all about heat transfer, try answering these questions:

  • How can you use conduction to make the temperature colder?
  • How can you use convection to beat the heat?
  • How can you use radiation to cool down?

Now, let's discuss what some air conditioners and sweat have in common. They both use evaporative cooling to drop the temperature. When sweat evaporates from the surface of our skin, it brings the temperature down. Watch LeBron James ask Sal Khan to explain how evaporative cooling works. However, this kind of cooling is less effective in places where there’s high humidity. In places with lots of water in the air, air conditioners use chemicals called refrigerants to cool the air down, just like refrigerators.

Migration and Chasing Summer

If you really enjoy the warm weather, you might wish that it was summer all year around. A lot of animals also love summer, and they get their wish by migrating around the world. Migration is when humans and animals move very long distances. Sometimes animals migrate to find warmer weather or more food. Watch to learn more about why and how animals migrate

Here in summery Illinois, we can see lots of migratory animals flying around outside. Some examples include Canada geese who are here in winter after summering in Canada, and monarch butterflies, which are here in summer after spending winter in Mexico. What other migratory animals can you spot? The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has information about what birds, mammals, insects, and fish to look for in Illinois.

People of the Week

Jamie Margolin, Nadia Nazar, Madelaine Tew, and Zanagee Artis are the co-founders of Zero Hour, a youth-led climate justice organization that fights to protect people’s access to a clean, safe, and healthy environment for years to come. The co-founders, all of whom have diverse identities, grouped together to create Zero Hour when they were still in high school. When you visit the website, the front page shows you a countdown of how much time is left before the Earth is predicted to warm by 1.5 degrees. Margolin, Nazar, Tew and Artis aim to stop the clock before this point by educating people about the importance of the environment and campaigning for political change.

Written by Michelle.