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Greenhouse Effect

Connecticut Energy Education

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This activity is a greenhouse-effect-in-a-bottle experiment. The lesson includes readings from NEED.org and an inquiry lab measuring the effect of carbon dioxide and temperature change in an enclosed environment.

This activity takes about two class periods. Additional material required.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Activity supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 3 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 5 Cross Cutting Concepts, 5 Science and Engineering Practices
High School: 1 Disciplinary Core Idea, 5 Cross Cutting Concepts, 5 Science and Engineering Practices

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Greenhouse effect
About Teaching Principle 2
Other materials addressing 2c
Climate is complex
About Teaching Climate Literacy
Other materials addressing Climate is complex

Energy Literacy

Fossil and bio fuels are organic matter that contain energy captured from sunlight.
Other materials addressing:
4.3 Fossil and bio fuels contain energy captured from sunlight.
Greenhouse gases affect energy flow through the Earth system.
Other materials addressing:
2.6 Greenhouse gases affect energy flow.

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:C) Collecting information
Other materials addressing:
C) Collecting information.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:A) Processes that shape the Earth
Other materials addressing:
A) Processes that shape the Earth.

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

  • Educator should have some background knowledge of basic chemistry.
  • The aerosol activity could be done separately if desired.
  • Educator should talk about variables and controlled experiments before students begin this activity.
  • Educator may want to extend the questions to help students more critically address the objectives.

About the Science

  • An inquiry approach to the greenhouse bottle model. The inquiry nature of the lab is good but using this type of experiment to model the greenhouse effect may reinforce misconceptions.
  • The second inquiry lab on aerosols also has science concerns. "Aerosols" are spray painted on the side of the bottle that the sun shines through. This might represent aerosols, but they are not aerosols in the bottle with the atmospheric gases and thus is a poor model.
  • Comment from expert scientist: It allows students to design their own experiment, and act like scientists themselves. It allows students to think about using models (a soda bottle) to describe a complex system (the atmosphere) and process (the greenhouse effect).

About the Pedagogy

  • A good effort at an inquiry-based activity in which students devise their own experiment to test the effect of increased CO2 in the atmosphere. Students read an article first–not a very exciting way to engage them in the activity. Good assessment questions and scaffolding for the student investigation.
  • Activity assumes that students understand the dynamics of a controlled experiment, which is not necessarily true.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Instructors will need to create an account to access the materials; the account is free to set up and the materials are free to use.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 3

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-PS1.B1:Substances react chemically in characteristic ways. In a chemical process, the atoms that make up the original substances are regrouped into different molecules, and these new substances have different properties from those of the reactants.

MS-PS1.B2:The total number of each type of atom is conserved, and thus the mass does not change.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 5

Systems and System Models, Energy and Matter, Structure and Function, Patterns, Cause and effect

MS-C1.3: Patterns can be used to identify cause and effect relationships.

MS-C2.2:Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems.

MS-C4.2: Models can be used to represent systems and their interactions—such as inputs, processes and outputs—and energy, matter, and information flows within systems.

MS-C5.1:Matter is conserved because atoms are conserved in physical and chemical processes.

MS-C6.1:Complex and microscopic structures and systems can be visualized, modeled, and used to describe how their function depends on the shapes, composition, and relationships among its parts; therefore, complex natural and designed structures/systems can be analyzed to determine how they function.

Science and Engineering Practices: 5

Developing and Using Models, Planning and Carrying Out Investigations, Analyzing and Interpreting Data, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, Asking Questions and Defining Problems

MS-P1.6:Ask questions that can be investigated within the scope of the classroom, outdoor environment, and museums and other public facilities with available resources and, when appropriate, frame a hypothesis based on observations and scientific principles.

MS-P2.5:Develop and/or use a model to predict and/or describe phenomena.

MS-P3.4:Collect data to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence to answer scientific questions or test design solutions under a range of conditions

MS-P4.4:Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for phenomena.

MS-P6.2:Construct an explanation using models or representations.

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 1

HS-PS1.B3:The fact that atoms are conserved, together with knowledge of the chemical properties of the elements involved, can be used to describe and predict chemical reactions.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 5

Patterns, Cause and effect, Systems and System Models, Energy and Matter, Structure and Function

HS-C1.1:Different patterns may be observed at each of the scales at which a system is studied and can provide evidence for causality in explanations of phenomena

HS-C2.2:Cause and effect relationships can be suggested and predicted for complex natural and human designed systems by examining what is known about smaller scale mechanisms within the system.

HS-C4.3:Models (e.g., physical, mathematical, computer models) can be used to simulate systems and interactions—including energy, matter, and information flows—within and between systems at different scales.

HS-C5.1:The total amount of energy and matter in closed systems is conserved.

HS-C6.1:Investigating or designing new systems or structures requires a detailed examination of the properties of different materials, the structures of different components, and connections of components to reveal its function and/or solve a problem.

Science and Engineering Practices: 5

Asking Questions and Defining Problems, Developing and Using Models, Planning and Carrying Out Investigations, Analyzing and Interpreting Data, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

HS-P1.6:Ask questions that can be investigated within the scope of the school laboratory, research facilities, or field (e.g., outdoor environment) with available resources and, when appropriate, frame a hypothesis based on a model or theory.

HS-P2.5:Develop a complex model that allows for manipulation and testing of a proposed process or system.

HS-P3.3:Plan and conduct an investigation or test a design solution in a safe and ethical manner including considerations of environmental, social, and personal impacts.

HS-P4.4:Compare and contrast various types of data sets (e.g., self-generated, archival) to examine consistency of measurements and observations.

HS-P6.2:Construct and revise an explanation based on valid and reliable evidence obtained from a variety of sources (including students’ own investigations, models, theories, simulations, peer review) and the assumption that theories and laws that describe the natural world operate today as they did in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

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