Ocean Acidification

Jennifer Bown, Clackamas Community College
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Initial Publication Date: April 5, 2013 | Reviewed: November 2, 2013


Students choose shell fragments from different species of Molluscs and calculate percent lose after soaking in different ph solutions for different periods of time. They research ocean acidification and especially local events off the Oregon coast to apply to this activity.

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The students are a mixture of undergraduate (first and second year) in all majors along with general interest public. This class has no pre-requisites so it is open to virtually everyone. They often has very basic knowledge of pH scales and chemical equations so this activity "gets their feet wet".

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

They must have completed some research on pH scales and ocean acification. They also need how to measure acurately the weight and pH value (using either litmus paper or a pH meter)to preform the lab.

How the activity is situated in the course

Once they gather their data, they compile it in a lab report. They are asked to compare their results to our real ocean occurances, draw conclusions if they can.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

This activity gives them basic knowledge of ocean chemistry, pH scales, and affects of pH on shellfish.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

After completing research on pH and ocean acification, students hypothesize about the pH range to test, create a hypothesis, design their experiment utlizing at least three different types of shelled molluscs, run their experiment and analyze their data. Once completed, they are asked to draw conclusions and compare to ocean acidification data online.

Other skills goals for this activity

Since many of my students come into this class with little to no science (though highly vairable), basic writing and internet seraching are necessary. The only equipement they utlize is a digital scale and pH meters (or Litmus paper).

Description and Teaching Materials

Affect of pH changes on shelled molluscs and how might different shellfish designs respond.
Excerpt Coast Lab 1 - Oceanography (Acrobat (PDF) 75kB Apr4 13)

Teaching Notes and Tips

Lots of great info on pmel and NODC at NOAA web site


Students are assessed by a variety of methods including the scored the lab report, questions in quizzes and exams, and group discussions in peer groups.

References and Resources