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Capturing Carbon
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/tech/capturing-carbon.html

Nova Science Now

This PBS video shows how Klaus Lackner, a geophysicist at Columbia University, is trying to tackle the problem of rising atmospheric CO2 levels by using an idea inspired by his daughter's 8th-grade science fair project.

Video length: 12:06 min.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Video supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 8 Disciplinary Core Ideas
High School: 12 Disciplinary Core Ideas

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

About Teaching the Guiding Principle
Other materials addressing GPd
About Teaching the Guiding Principle
Other materials addressing GPe
Biogeochemical cycles of greenhouse gases / Carbon cycle
About Teaching Principle 2
Other materials addressing 2d
Climate is complex
About Teaching Climate Literacy
Other materials addressing Climate is complex
Natural processes of CO2 removal from atmosphere is slow; Long residence time of some GHG
About Teaching Principle 4
Other materials addressing 4g
Humans affect climate
About Teaching Climate Literacy
Other materials addressing Humans affect climate

Energy Literacy

Environmental quality is impacted by energy choices.
Other materials addressing:
7.3 Environmental quality.
Human demand for energy is increasing.
Other materials addressing:
6.3 Demand for energy is increasing.
Movement of matter between reservoirs is driven by Earth's internal and external sources of energy.
Other materials addressing:
2.5 Energy moves between reservoirs.
Greenhouse gases affect energy flow through the Earth system.
Other materials addressing:
2.6 Greenhouse gases affect energy flow.

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

  • Use to teach both about climate science and scientific method/research process.
  • Educator should be aware that resource could be construed as advertising for this particular technology.

About the Science

  • Discusses problem of increased CO2 emissions, greenhouse effect, and carbon sequestration.
  • Scientist's research project tries to mimic what a tree can do in terms of absorbing CO2, and releasing O2.
  • Comments from expert scientist: This is an interesting idea, but video should take into account the total estimated cost of removing CO2 from the atmosphere including materials, transportation, and installation and not just the electricity used.

About the Pedagogy

  • Interesting and engaging video about current research and development of innovative ideas related to trapping carbon.
  • Video models the use of scientific method for solving complex problems.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • A 15-second commercial precedes video.
  • Has closed-captioned text that can be turned on/off

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Video supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 8

MS-PS3.D1:The chemical reaction by which plants produce complex food molecules (sugars) requires an energy input (i.e., from sunlight) to occur. In this reaction, carbon dioxide and water combine to form carbon-based organic molecules and release oxygen.

MS-PS3.D2:Cellular respiration in plants and animals involve chemical reactions with oxygen that release stored energy. In these processes, complex molecules containing carbon react with oxygen to produce carbon dioxide and other materials.

MS-LS1.C1:Plants, algae (including phytoplankton), and many microorganisms use the energy from light to make sugars (food) from carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and water through the process of photosynthesis, which also releases oxygen. These sugars can be used immediately or stored for growth or later use.

MS-ESS3.D1:Human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (global warming). Reducing the level of climate change and reducing human vulnerability to whatever climate changes do occur depend on the understanding of climate science, engineering capabilities, and other kinds of knowledge, such as understanding of human behavior and on applying that knowledge wisely in decisions and activities.

MS-ETS1.B1:A solution needs to be tested, and then modified on the basis of the test results, in order to improve it.

MS-ETS1.B2:There are systematic processes for evaluating solutions with respect to how well they meet the criteria and constraints of a problem.

MS-ETS1.B4:Models of all kinds are important for testing solutions.

MS-ETS1.C2:The iterative process of testing the most promising solutions and modifying what is proposed on the basis of the test results leads to greater refinement and ultimately to an optimal solution

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 12

HS-ESS2.D1:The foundation for Earth’s global climate systems is the electromagnetic radiation from the sun, as well as its reflection, absorption, storage, and redistribution among the atmosphere, ocean, and land systems, and this energy’s re-radiation into space.

HS-ESS2.D2:Gradual atmospheric changes were due to plants and other organisms that captured carbon dioxide and released oxygen.

HS-ESS2.D3:Changes in the atmosphere due to human activity have increased carbon dioxide concentrations and thus affect climate.

HS-ESS3.C2:Scientists and engineers can make major contributions by developing technologies that produce less pollution and waste and that preclude ecosystem degradation.

HS-ETS1.A1:Criteria and constraints also include satisfying any requirements set by society, such as taking issues of risk mitigation into account, and they should be quantified to the extent possible and stated in such a way that one can tell if a given design meets them.

HS-ETS1.A2:Humanity faces major global challenges today, such as the need for supplies of clean water and food or for energy sources that minimize pollution, which can be addressed through engineering. These global challenges also may have manifestations in local communities

HS-ETS1.B1:When evaluating solutions, it is important to take into account a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, and to consider social, cultural, and environmental impacts.

HS-ETS1.B2:Both physical models and computers can be used in various ways to aid in the engineering design process. Computers are useful for a variety of purposes, such as running simulations to test different ways of solving a problem or to see which one is most efficient or economical; and in making a persuasive presentation to a client about how a given design will meet his or her needs.

HS-ETS1.C1:Criteria may need to be broken down into simpler ones that can be approached systematically, and decisions about the priority of certain criteria over others (trade-offs) may be needed

HS-PS3.D2:The main way that solar energy is captured and stored on Earth is through the complex chemical process known as photosynthesis.

HS-LS1.C1:The process of photosynthesis converts light energy to stored chemical energy by converting carbon dioxide plus water into sugars plus released oxygen.

HS-LS1.C2:The sugar molecules thus formed contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen: their hydrocarbon backbones are used to make amino acids and other carbon-based molecules that can be assembled into larger molecules (such as proteins or DNA), used for example to form new cells. (


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