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MIT's Greenhouse Gas Simulator

John Sherman, MIT

One of a suite of online climate interactive simulations, this Greenhouse Gas Simulator uses the bathtub model to demonstrate how atmospheric concentrations of CO2 will continue to rise unless they are lowered to match the amount of CO2 that can be removed through natural processes.

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Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Educator should be familiar enough with the simulator and concepts being addressed to be able to help walk students through the complex aspects of the activity.
  • Educator should go over the instructions and the units on the graphs before learners launch the animation.

About the Science

  • Building on the bathtub animation that helps convey the challenges of stabilizing and reducing carbon emissions, this simulator includes substantial background information that may be appropriate for advanced high school, undergraduate students, or professionals involved with reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The simulator includes important concepts including sink saturation and positive feedbacks, but learners without guidance may miss the importance of these concepts.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Provided background on CO2, its sources and sinks, and Kyoto protocol, is generally strong and put in simple concepts for easy understanding. Especially the concept of the bathtub and the overflowing water is an interesting analogy. Design of the simulator is also appropriate since it is easy to run and self-explanatory.

About the Pedagogy

  • This simulation can be done as a lab but will need to be guided for learners to be able to take away all the information embedded in this simulation/activity.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Content in simulation is on occasion covered with a pop-up window.
  • Users may find some of the options for the simulation unclear in terms of their relevance or importance.

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