Reflection: Lesson Planning Radiation and Climate - Section 3: Explore


I am always trying new activities within my classes.  With the Next Generation Science Standards I am trying to step outside my comfort zone and begin to teach new content. 

For this lesson I wanted to bring in some of the environmental issues that I often only quickly mention in my class. 

I wanted to do some type of quick lab or demonstration that helped students to visualize carbon dioxide and its impact on climate.

In my search I found one of my books, Save the Earth Science Experiment by Harris, and an experiment related to greenhouse gases on pages 64-69.  I took this experiment and with a few adjustments added it to my lesson. 

Ideally, I will try experiments before I do them with my students; however, I did not have time to do this prior to my first class.  With this in mind I new that I would probably get mixed results, but figured that because this was going to be done at a demonstration that we would be able to problem solve as we did the experiment.

  • For the first class I attempted to experiment using Smart water bottles that are 1L but tall and skinny.  I also had the values of 2tsp, 4tsp, and 8tsp as the amount of baking soda in the first 3 bottles and put about 100mL of vinegar into the bottom of each.  With the Smart bottles the thermometers did not quite fit inside the bottles so I had to use some Parafilm to help seal up the bottles (here is a picture of this set up).  Additionally, it was hard to read the thermometers because a lot of the baking soda did not dissolve all of the way in the vinegar so made the bottle cloudy looking.  This example from Period 3 shows the overall data that we got. 
  • For the subsequent classes I switched to 2L soda bottles which helped the thermometers fit better and I adjusted the amount of vinegar and baking soda to help more dissolve so that I could more easily read the thermometer.  I then played with the amount of baking soda and vinegar used.  In the end I found that for period 2 where I used 1/2 tbsp, 1 1/2 tbsp, and 3 tbsp with about 150mL vinegar in each I got pretty good results.  This student work from period 2 demonstrates this data.
  • Overall, I am happy with how this lab ended and will probably use it again in terms of ease of use and having a way to discuss greenhouse gases with students through a lab activity.  I will probably think about doing an alternate experiment to produce carbon dioxide more cleanly (perhaps alkaseltzer in water) and purchase thermometers that more easily fit into the soda bottles.


  Lesson Planning: Trying new activities
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Radiation and Climate

Unit 6: Unit 7: Earth's Atmosphere
Lesson 7 of 9

Objective: Student will be able to explain how solar radiation interacts with gases in the atmosphere to impact earth's climate as demonstrated by taking notes, performing computer activities, and watching videos.

Big Idea: The sun emits radiation which interacts with greenhouse gases to impact earth's climate.

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19 teachers like this lesson
Science, Chemistry, Climate Change, climate, atmosphere (Science), carbon cycle, solar radiation, greenhouse gases, Gases, radiation, Gas Laws, boyle's law, Charles' Law
  95 minutes
bottles co2 experiment picture
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