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Uptake of Carbon Dioxide from Water by Plants

IFM-GEOMAR S. Soria-Dengg, Carboschools (EU)

Two simple experiments/demonstrations show the role of plants in mitigating the acidification caused when CO2 is dissolved in water.

Each Experiment and Demonstration set takes about 20 minutes.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

The abundance of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is controlled by biogeochemical cycles that continually move these components between their ocean, land, life, and atmosphere reservoirs. The abundance of carbon in the atmosphere is reduced through seafloor accumulation of marine sediments and accumulation of plant biomass and is increased through deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels as well as through other processes.
About Teaching Principle 2
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Life—including microbes, plants, and animals and humans—is a major driver of the global carbon cycle and can influence global climate by modifying the chemical makeup of the atmosphere. The geologic record shows that life has significantly altered the atmosphere during Earth’s history.
About Teaching Principle 3
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Benchmarks for Science Literacy
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The earth's climates have changed in the past, are currently changing, and are expected to change in the future, primarily due to changes in the amount of light reaching places on the earth and the composition of the atmosphere. The burning of fossil fuels in the last century has increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which has contributed to Earth's warming.
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Plants on land and under water alter the earth's atmosphere by removing carbon dioxide from it, using the carbon to make sugars and releasing oxygen. This process is responsible for the oxygen content of the air.
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Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Experiment will supplement a lesson on the carbon cycle photosynthesis and ocean acidification very well.
  • Instructors could use narrow-range (~pH 3-8) pH strips to substitute for the pH meter in the second experiment if a pH meter is not available. Though, it should be noted, this may be less accurate and detailed than the pH meter would be.

About the Science

  • Experiment shows important processes of ocean acidification and demonstrates photosynthesis.
  • Comments from expert scientist: This activity is aimed at seconday/early high school students and provides an accurate model of the role of plants and phytoplankton in the world's oceans.

About the Pedagogy

  • Well-described experiment set up with lots of pictures to show what the experiment looks like.
  • Scaffolding around experiment needs to be provided by educator to ensure the learning outcomes.
  • While images are nice to illustrate changes that should be seen during the experiment, the instructor may consider removing them from the student handout so as not to give away any changes the students will see over the course of the experiment.
  • Incorporates life science into climate change discussion.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Well-described experiment with complete lists of necessary materials.

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