Global Greenhouse


Adapted from "Science World," November 18, 1994.

Experiment to find out how earth's atmosphere traps the sun's heat.

What You Need:

  • 2 thermometers

  • 2 identical shoe boxes

  • 2 tennis balls

  • black paint

  • paintbrush

  • clear plastic wrap

What To Do:

    1. Paint tennis balls black; let dry.

    2. Place uncovered boxes in sunlight so one short end is in shadow, the other directly in sunlight.

    3. Place one ball in sunlit end of each box.

    4. Place a thermometer in shadow inside each box.

    5. Tightly cover one box with clear plastic wrap. Wait 10 minutes.

    6. Record box temperatures.

    7. Touch each tennis ball. Record your observations.


How is the plastic wrap similar to the glass in a greenhouse? To Earth's atmosphere? What role do the black tennis balls play in this homemade greenhouse effect?

Don't Stop Now!

What would happen if the balls were painted white? Repeat your experiment to find out.

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