CO 2 and the Greenhouse Effect Elementary and Introductory Lessons and Labs

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1 CO 2 and the Greenhouse Effect Elementary and Introductory Lessons and Labs Concept: The greenhouse effect, carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) as a gas, and the impact of varying levels of atmospheric CO 2 will be explored. Georgia Performance Standards: S3CS1b, S3CS4a,c, S3CS8a,b, S3P1b, S3L1d, S3L2a,b. S4C1b, S4CS4a,c, S4CS8a, S4E4d, S4L1c,d, S4L2a,b. S5CS1b, S5CS4a,c, S5CS8a,b, S5P2b, S5L4a,b Ocean Literacy Principals: 3 5 Duration: 2 or 3 class periods Focus Question(s): What is the greenhouse effect? What are greenhouse gases? Where does carbon dioxide come from? Objective(s): Students will: Understand changes that impact the greenhouse effect. Understand the impacts on CO 2 levels from using fossil fuels. Background: CARBON: Plants, animals, water, rocks, and soil, everything on earth, contains carbon. Diamonds and graphite are pure forms of carbon. Graphite is used in pencils. Carbon is the major portion of coal, petroleum, and natural gas. Oil is produced from plants which died millions of years ago. Gasoline is made from oil. Plastic is made of oil; everything that is made of plastic also contains carbon. Carbon is everywhere. It can be a liquid, gas, or solid. In a gaseous state it can be found in aerosol cans, in soda and in our atmosphere. Our atmosphere naturally contains CO2, it is odorless and colorless. It is in just the right amount to blanket our earth, to contain just enough of the sun s heat to make conditions favorable for life. Carbohydrates in the foods that we eat are carbon based. People and animals all obtain carbon from the plant based foods that are consumed. If we eat animals too, we obtain carbon from them. When things die the decaying matter returns the carbon to the earth and into the atmosphere. When we burn fossil fuels we return the carbon to the atmosphere. The more CO2 in the atmosphere the more heat is held and radiated back to the Earth s surface. Natural occurrences such as forest fires and volcanic eruptions lead to extra amounts of CO2 in our atmosphere. However, the high rates of burning fossil fuels to power factories, power plants, cars, trucks, has tipped the natural levels to an all time high. There is 30% more CO2 in our atmosphere than that of 150 years ago. CARBON DIOXIDE: Earth gets its energy from the sun radiating through our atmosphere. Earth absorbs some of the solar energy with most of the energy being released back into space. Plants and animals use this energy for food production (photosynthesis) and warmth. As the solar energy bounces off the earth s surface, Some of this energy goes back into space but some of it is absorbed by the gases in earth s surrounding atmosphere. Gases like carbon dioxide, ozone, and methane hold the solar energy close to earth s surface much like a blanket holds your body heat close to your skin. Additionally, the thickness of the blanket matters as a thin blanket holds less heat than a thicker blanket. So, if earth is surrounded by a thick layer of energy trapping gases, like carbon dioxide, then the earth will get much warmer than if surrounded by a thin layer of carbon dioxide. Much like a blanket, the thickness of the atmospheric

2 gases will alter the amount of solar energy held close to the earth s surface. Solar energy continues to enter earth s atmosphere and, if a thicker layer of atmospheric gases surrounds earth, then more heat will become trap and slowly heat earth s surface. This process is referred to as the greenhouse effect as the gases act much like the plastic panels on a greenhouse, trapping warm air inside. Human population and practices, such as cutting trees or driving cars, has greatly increased the levels of greenhouse gases in the earth s atmosphere so scientists are researching ways to reduce and prevent excess greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) from entering our atmosphere and causing the blanket of gasses to thicken. One way that everyone can help or practice stewardship is to walk or bike more often, plants trees when possible, and share their knowledge with others. Vocabulary: carbon, carbon cycle, greenhouse gases, greenhouse effect, carbon dioxide, atmosphere Materials: What is Carbon? presentation I am Who Are You? cards What is Carbon student sheet Ways to Reduce Carbon Dioxide handout Large construction paper or poster board Crayons, markers, or colored pencils A large open space 2 glass jars with lids Water 2 2 liter empty plastic bottles per student group Seeds or small plants 3 cups of potting soil 1 cup of sand Summary of Lessons & Labs: Lesson & Lab #1: Introducing Carbon Dioxide and the Carbon Cycle Show students What is Carbon? presentation. Have the game cards cut apart to play I Am Who Are You? Give each child in the class a card. Students will read aloud from the cards. The card game is a summary of the order in which the carbon cycle works. If time permits do this activity after the PowerPoint, if not use this as the introduction for the second lesson. Pass out the accompanying What is Carbon student sheet. Students will cut apart pictures to create their own version and understanding of the Carbon Cycle. Students who wish to draw their own pictures can simply use the handout as a guide. Students can either use large construction paper to make their own carbon cycle independently, or feel free to use large white butcher paper to make a whole class mural. Students will need crayons, colored pencils or markers in order to add details to their pictures.

3 Lesson & Lab 2: Reducing Carbon Dioxide Display the Ways to Reduce Carbon Dioxide handout. NOTE: You can play the game with either just the poster displayed, or with students having the cut apart poster piece so that it is easier for them to remember what to say before being tagged. Explain that the students will be playing a game of tag. There will be one person who is IT and they are referred to as carbon dioxide or CO 2. The object of the game is to avoid being tagged out. As CO 2 approaches to tag you, squat down and call out or read one way to help reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. You must state your choice before being tagged. If you are tagged before calling out, you are out of the game. If you repeat something someone else previously called out, you become IT, the CO2. Play continues until all of the choices for reducing carbon emissions have been chosen. Greenhouse Simulations: Lesson & Lab #3: It s Getting Hot in Here! In two similar jars, add 1 2 inches of water. Put a lid on one of the jars. Have students observe the jars, then place the opened and sealed jar in a sunny spot. After a few hours, check on the jars and have students observe the jars. Discussion questions: Do they observe any changes? If so, what changes occurred? Lesson & Lab #4: Life in a Liter Cut the bottoms off two empty 2 liter plastic soda bottles. Remove the colored plastic bottom from the one of the empty bottles Mix one cup of sand with about 3 cups of potting soil; place this mixture inside the bottom of the bottle that still has the colored bottom (this will provide a more stable base) Plant the seeds under a thin layer of soil, or plant your small plants in the soil Fit the two bottles together, see picture below (Adapted from to make minigreenhouse.htm) Credit to Nancy Boyle, Peeples Elementary School in collaboration with Brian Hopkinson (UGA Marine Sciences Department) with funding from the National Science Foundation (Award # ) and assistance from the Center of Ocean Sciences Education Excellence SouthEast(COSEE SE). More lessons available on se.org

4 What is Carbon? What is the Carbon Cycle?

5 All living things on Earth contain carbon, but what is carbon? Why is carbon important?

6 Carbon is everywhere! Carbon is an element that is found all over the Earth: it is in the air, in the ocean, and in the Earth s crust. Carbon is also found in materials like chalk, marble, coal, gas, and sugar. Pencils contain graphite, which is made of carbon. Diamonds are also made from carbon. Carbon is inside of us, outside of us. In fact, right now you are breathing out carbon in the form of carbon dioxide.

7 Carbon combines with oxygen to produce carbon dioxide which is shortened to CO 2. Carbon dioxide is a gas found in the air surrounding the Earth, known as the atmosphere. It is colorless and odorless.

8 CO 2 helps insulate the Earth and keep the atmosphere at just the right temperature for life to exist.

9 Photosynthesis Using the suns energy, a plant s leaves take in the carbon dioxide from the air and the plant uses carbon dioxide to make food.

10

11 When plants and animals die, the carbon in their bodies enters the earth and can be used by other plants and animals.

12 Over millions of years the decaying plants and animals became oil, coal, and natural gas. We call these fossil fuels. We drill, dig, and pump these fuels out of the earth to use them for powering things that need energy.

13 Fossil fuels power houses, cars, schools. In using fossil fuels, we add carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

14

15 The carbon dioxide enters the atmosphere. The cycle starts over.

16 Resources: for kids/0043 gases effect weather.php for kids/0159 the carbon cycle.php Ch/Carbon Cycle.html

17 What is Carbon? Student Sheet Directions: Cut out the pictures below. Glue the pictures to a blank sheet of white construction paper. Add words or picture details that would show your understanding of the carbon cycle.

18 I am, Who Are You? Activity Cards I am the sun. I give off the energy needed by green plants like phytoplankton so they can make their own food. Who has phytoplankton? I am phytoplankton, the tiny green plants and algae of the ocean. I get my energy from the sun and am an important food for zooplankton. Who is zooplankton? I am zooplankton, the drifting animals of the ocean, that feed many other ocean animals like crabs. Who is a crab?

19 I am a crab who just dined on krill, a type of zooplankton, but here comes another type of zooplankton a JELLYFISH! Who is a jellyfish? I am a jellyfish capturing and eating the crab while I drift in the current towards a group of sea turtles. Who is a sea turtle? I am an adult female sea turtle full from a dinner of jellyfish. YUM! Now, I swim towards the beach to lay my eggs. Hopefully the raccoons will not be on the beach. Who is a raccoon?

20 I am a raccoon who loves to find and eat turtle eggs buried in the beach sand. I must cross the highway to get to the beach. Who is the highway? I am the highway cutting a path between the beach and the forest. Many cars speed to and from the beach. Who is the speeding car? I am the speeding car carrying the power plant employees to and from work. Who is the power plant?

21 I am the power plant who burns coal to bring electricity to your home. Who is coal? I am coal burned to provide power to community buildings such as the Natural History Museum. Who is the museum? I am the museum with exhibits lit up by the burning fossil fuels from the power plant. I am home to the remains of prehistoric dinosaurs that many visitors enjoy. Who is a visitor?

22 I am the visitor, who bought a souvenir at the museum, who recycles the bag for gathering raked leaves. Who represents the raked leaves? I am the raked leaves releasing carbon dioxide as I decompose on the ground. Who is the oak tree? I am the oak tree that will be covered in green leaves next spring that capture carbon dioxide. Who is the green leaves?

23 I am the green leaves that capture carbon dioxide and photosynthesize to make food. Who is photosynthesis? I am photosynthesis and I use the sun and CO2 (carbon dioxide) to make oxygen. Who is oxygen? I am oxygen needed by most living things like squirrels and birds. Who represents living things?

24 I am living things? I breathe out carbon dioxide (CO2) when I exhale. Who is CO2? I am CO2 (carbon dioxide) and I can be found everywhere in the air, in living things, and in the ocean. Who is the ocean? I am the ocean. I cover over 70% of the earth s surface and contain many living things that need the sun s energy. Who is the sun?

25 Ways to Reduce Carbon Dioxide 1. Reduce 2. Reuse 3. Recycle 4. Switch out your old light bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs 5. Use cold water for washing clothes 6. Let the dishes in the dishwasher air dry 7. Only run the dishwasher when it is full 8. Only run the washer and dryer when they are full 9. Use reusable bags for grocery shopping 10. Use recycled paper 11. Walk when possible 12. Ride a bike 13. Carpool or share a ride with a friend to school 14. Read the newspaper online 15. Use a laptop rather than a desktop-they use 80% less energy 16. Don t print s-save a copy on the computer if you want to keep it 17. Use both sides of the paper when printing 18. Turn off lights and electronics when not in use 19. Unplug electronics when not in use 20. Plant a tree 21. Buy organic foods and clothing if possible 22. Compost food scraps and newspaper 23. Buy locally grown fruits and vegetables 24. Use a refillable water bottle 25. Don t buy things with extra packaging

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