Tropopause Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

This lesson plan may be used to help students learn about the tropopause. Students will be able to describe the layers of the atmosphere and the transition zones between the layers.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion, students will be able to:

  • Ask and answer questions about the relationship between altitude and temperature
  • Use domain-specific language to label the layers of the atmosphere
  • Create a diagram that indicates temperature changes in the tropopause


90 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts.


Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6-8 texts and topics.


Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).


  • altitude
  • atmosphere
  • atmospheric layers
  • fluctuation
  • kinetic energy
  • mesosphere
  • molecules
  • phenomenon
  • stratosphere
  • temperature
  • thermosphere
  • transition zones
  • tropopause
  • troposphere
  • ultraviolet radiation


  • Copies of the quiz
  • Copies of the lessons
  • Paper
  • Pens
  • Paper circles, prepared (See Layers of the Atmosphere Model Activity)
  • Markers
  • Brads
  • Access to internet sources
  • Chart paper

Reading & Discussion Questions

  • Preview vocabulary with students before reading the lesson.
  • Read Tropopause: Definition & Characteristics as a class.
  • Pause after 'What is the Tropopause?', then discuss:
    • What are the four main layers in the atmosphere?
    • Which layer of the atmosphere do people live in?
    • What is the tropopause?
  • Read 'Characteristics of the Tropopause'.
    • How do scientists know where the tropopause is and that it exists?
    • What happens to the atmosphere at higher altitudes in the troposphere?
    • What happens to the atmosphere at higher altitudes in the stratosphere?
    • How does the ozone layer contribute to temperature at different layers of the atmosphere?
    • What are atmospheric conditions in the troposphere? Why?
  • Have students get a piece of paper and draw a picture of the atmospheric layers and label using the vocabulary words.
  • Have them share their drawings with their partner, checking for any missing information.
  • Read the lesson summary and give the students the lesson's printable worksheet to check for understanding.
  • Check the answers as a class.

Layers of the Atmosphere Model

Materials needed: Paper cut in circles the following sizes: 8' diameter, 7' diameter, 6' diameter, 5' diameter, 4' diameter, markers, brad, access to internet resources, chart paper

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