Item WC026003: The sun warms the surface of the earth less in winter because the angle at which sunlight strikes the earth is smaller in the winter.

A girl who often plays with her friends in front of her house notices that the concrete sidewalk tends to be much warmer in the middle of day in the summer than it is in the middle of the day in the winter. Other than the ground and air being colder in the winter, what else explains why the sidewalk is colder in the winter than in the summer?

  1. The sun is cooler in the winter, so sunlight transfers less energy to the concrete in the middle of the day in the winter and does not warm the concrete as much as it does in the summer.
  2. The angle at which sunlight reaches the concrete in the middle of the day is smaller in the winter, so sunlight transfers less energy to the concrete during the winter and does not warm the concrete as much as it does in the summer.
  3. The sun is farther from the earth in the winter, so less energy from sunlight reaches the concrete in the middle of the day in the winter and does not warm the concrete as much as it does in the summer.
  4. The amount of energy that sunlight transfers to the concrete does not change throughout the year. The only way the concrete could be colder in the winter than in the summer is if more clouds blocked the sunlight so the sunlight could not warm the concrete as much as it does in the summer.

Distribution of Responses

Chart showing distrubtion of responses for Item WC026003

Percent of students responding correctly

Overall28%
Grades 6–829%
Grades 9–1228%
Male29%
Female27%
Primary Language is English29%
Primary Language is not English27%

View data table