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Create a UV Warning Scale

Students learn about the {definitionbot=disable}dangers of UV radiation and create warning scales for tracking UV levels in their community.

Materials Needed
Extension Activities
Relevant Curriculum Standards


Students learn about the dangers of UV radiation and create their own warning scales to use as they track the levels in their own community.

Estimated class time:
One 90-minute block to create warning scale posters, followed with 5 minutes day for a period of time for tracking UV levels (a month, perhaps) and then one 90-minute block for summary.


Students will:

  • Define ozone layer and UV radiation
  • Recognize health problems that may be due to increased UV levels
  • Describe ways to protect oneself from UV radiation dangers
  • Describe ways to help prevent further degradation of the ozone layer
  • Create a warning system poster which displays current UV levels
  • Track UV levels for a particular area over a period of time


  • Internet access
  • Materials to make posters (construction paper, markers, etc.)


  1. Introduce students to the website, Hole in the 'Zone on this website. Have them explore the site to be able to answer the following questions:
    • What is the ozone layer?
    • Why is the ozone layer important to us?
    • What's happening to the ozone layer?
    • What is the electro-magnetic spectrum?
    • What is UV radiation?
    • What kinds of problems can UV radiation cause?
    • How can we protect ourselves from UV radiation?
    • Is there anything that can be done to prevent UV radiation?

  2. Discuss how the level of UV radiation can change from day to day. Have students click on the "Still Want a Sun Tan?" link on 'Solar Radiation on the Rise, http://dipsy.pbs.org/journeytoplanetearth/johnshopkins/zone/zone3.html, page, then go to the EPA Daily Index Map. Find the location closest to home and determine the UV level for the day. Be sure to note the "Minutes to Skin Damage" legend at the bottom.

  3. Instruct the students that they are to design a new UV-radiation level warning system to use in their community. They may work in small groups to design posters with an appropriate scale or color system to inform the public of the current level. Their posters must include information on the level of radiation, the dangers at each level, what kinds of precautions to take, if necessary, and a way to indicate what the current level is.

  4. Every day for the next month (more or less, if you want) have students return to the site and find the UV level for their area. They can display and use their posters to indicate the level for each day. Record the level in a journal, along with other information about the weather that day-sunny, cloudy, warm, cold, raining, etc.

  5. At the end of the designated time period have students write a summary of what they've learned. Did they see any connections between weather and UV levels? Have they learned what to do when UV levels are high? Do they know what to do to help prevent high UV levels?


  • Discussion participation or answers to questions from website exploration
  • UV-level warning posters
  • Summaries of tracking the level of UV radiation


  • Track levels of radiation in other parts of the country or world and compare it to home
  • Create informational pamphlets that encourage "ozone-favorable" behaviors

This lesson correlates to the following National Science Education Standards, located online at bob.nap.edu/html/nses/html/6e.html#csc912, and National Health Education Standards located online at www.aahperd.org/aahe/pdf_files/standards.pdf.

National Science Education Standards

Content Standard B:
As a result of their activities in grades 5-8, all students should develop an understanding of transfer of energy

  • The sun is a major source of energy for changes on the earth's surface. The sun loses energy by emitting light. A tiny fraction of that light reaches the earth, transferring energy from the sun to the earth. The sun's energy arrives as light with a range of wavelengths, consisting of visible light, infrared, and ultraviolet radiation.

Content Standard F:
As a result of activities in grades 5-8, all students should develop understanding of personal health:

  • Natural environments may contain substances (for example, radon and lead) that are harmful to human beings. Maintaining environmental health involves establishing or monitoring quality standards related to use of soil, water, and air.

As a result of activities in grades 5-8, all students should develop understanding of natural hazards:

  • Natural hazards can present personal and societal challenges because misidentifying the change or incorrectly estimating the rate and scale of change may result in either too little attention and significant human costs or too much cost for unneeded preventive measures.

National Health Standards

Health Education Standard 7:
Students will demonstrate the ability to advocate for personal, family and community health by analyzing various communication methods to accurately express health information and ideas by:

  • expressing information and opinions about health issues.

Health Education Standard 3:
Students will demonstrate the ability to practice health-enhancing behaviors and reduce health risks by:

  • demonstrating ways to avoid and reduce threatening situations


Is My Sunscreen Working? | Create a UV Warning Scale

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