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Don't Be So Fuel-ish! How Much Fuel is Saved When Cars Are Parked in the Shade?

This article is from Issue Urban Forest - Vol. 6 No. 1.

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The scientists in this study wanted to know if cars parked in shady parking lots emit fewer gases than cars parked in sunny parking lots. If that is the case, it would give people another reason to plant trees in parking lots, especially where the climate is hot.

Welcome to the Urban Forests edition

Note to Educators

Urban Forest Lesson Plan

Reflection Section Answer Guide

Education Standards Correlations


Meet the scientists that contributed to this article:

"Science Topics" covered in this article:
  • Earth Science
  • Life Science
  • People and Science
  • Technology and Science

"Environmental Topics" covered in this article:
  • Atmosphere (Educators)
  • Importance of Forest to People (Students)
  • The Value of Forests and Grasslands (Educators)

Regions covered in this article:
  • Alaska
  • Forest Products Lab
  • Intermountain
  • International Institute of Tropical Forestry
  • Northern
  • Pacific Northwest
  • Pacific Southwest
  • Rocky Mountain
  • Southern
  • Southwestern

"Thinking About Science Themes" covered in this article:
Scientists sometimes design their experiments so that they can compare different things. In this experiment, the scientists wanted to explore some of the differences between parking lots that are shaded and parking lots that are not shaded. When scientists compare different things, they carefully identify what is similar about and different between the things. (What do you think is similar about and different between these two parking lots?) Scientists then take the same kind of measurement from each thing to see if there are differences. In this study, the scientists were interested in the temperature of each of these two areas.
Specific "Thinking About Science" Themes:
  • Characteristics of Scientists
  • The Scientific Process

"Thinking About Environmental Themes" covered in this article:
Cars use petroleum as a fuel that runs their engines. When the fuel is burned, its energy is transformed into hot gases that leave the car through the tailpipe. The form of the energy in liquid petroleum is different than the form of the energy that comes through the tailpipe. None of the energy is destroyed in the burning process, but it is more spread out and less useable. Burning petroleum as a fuel is an example of the First Law of Energy. This law states that energy cannot be created or destroyed. No matter what kind of energy you can think of, it has to obey this law!
Specific "Thinking About the Environment" Themes:
  • Energy

NSE Standards covered in this article:
  • Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry (A)
  • Nature of science (G)
  • Populations and ecosystems (C)
  • Populations, resources and environments (F)
  • Properties and changes of properties in matter (B)
  • Risks and benefits (F)
  • Science and technology in society (F)
  • Science as a human endeavor (G)
  • Transfer of energy (B)
  • Understandings about scientific inquiry (A)

Science Benchmarks covered in this article:
  • Habits of Mind: Critical-Response Skills
  • The Mathematical World: Reasoning
  • The Nature of Science: Scientific Inquiry
  • The Nature of Science: The Scientific Enterprise