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Atmosphere Design Lab

Smithsonian: Forces of Change

This interactive exposes students to Earth's atmospheric gases of oxygen, carbon dioxide, and ozone. As the user manipulates the interactive to increase or decrease the concentration of each gas, explanations and images are provided that explain and visualize what the Earth would be like in each scenario.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Greenhouse effect
About Teaching Principle 2
Other materials addressing 2c
Our understanding of climate
About Teaching Climate Literacy
Other materials addressing Our understanding of climate

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.

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks

Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide and water vapor, are transparent to much of the incoming sunlight but not to the infrared light from the warmed surface of the earth. When greenhouse gases increase, more thermal energy is trapped in the atmosphere, and the temperature of the earth increases the light energy radiated into space until it again equals the light energy absorbed from the sun.
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark

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 could divide class into gas teams to explore each one of these scenarios, then report back to the rest of the class.
  • Combine interactive with other resources on the site to support a deeper understanding of the content.

About the Science

  • A simple informational interactive that describes the important properties and characteristics of carbon dioxide, oxygen, and ozone.
  • Gives a cursory explanation of the greenhouse effect and elements of the carbon cycle.
  • NOTE: The stated present level of CO2 is incorrect. For the current CO2 level see: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/
  • Comments from expert scientist: There is only little science in this presentation, which is probably appropriate for a broad audience. The comparison with Mars and Venus is good because it suggests that we understand quite well that CO2 is an important factor in setting the temperature. What's more, that suggestion reflects the truth. The last two illustrations ("where does O2 come from" and the "elixir of life") under "oxygen" are excellent.

About the Pedagogy

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Clean and concise in its execution.

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