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Ocean Acidification in a Cup
https://www.exploratorium.edu/snacks/ocean-acidification-in-cup

Exploratorium

This model of ocean-atmosphere interaction shows how carbon dioxide gas diffuses into water, causing the water to become more acidic. The video demonstration and instruction provide an explanation of the chemistry behind this change and the consequences of ocean acidification. The video also addresses a misconception about how ocean acidification affects shelled organisms.

This learning activity takes 30 minutes.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»


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Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • The instructions for this experiment provide alternatives for lab equipment and materials that might be unavailable, such as a substitute for the acid indicator bromothymol blue.

About the Science

  • This classroom experiment allows students to see the process of ocean acidification in action. It creates a carbon-dioxide rich atmosphere above a layer of water with a pH indicator in a cup. The carbon dioxide diffuses into the water and eventually raises the pH, which can be seen with the pH indicator. The website describes the processes of ocean acidification, the fast carbon cycle, and how these processes affect sea life.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • This is a controlled experiment that can be completed in a typical classroom laboratory setting. Students will create a model of an ocean-atmosphere interaction that shows how carbon dioxide gas diffuses into water, and compare it with a control.
  • Before conducting the experiment, students should understand how an acid indicator works and the fact that mixing vinegar and baking soda creates CO2 gas.
  • This classroom experiment can be done as a demonstration or a lab activity.
  • The website provides explanations, references, and discussion questions, and teaching tips.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Video provides an example of how to do the demonstration. Instructions are very comprehensive and easy to follow.
  • This experiment can be carried out with typical classroom laboratory materials and provides useful tips for teachers.

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