Lab 3: Carbon in the Atmosphere

The lab activity described here was developed by Candace Dunlap of TERC for the EarthLabs project.

Summary and Learning Objectives

The atmosphere serves as the main relay station for carbon atoms moving through the global cycle. In Part A, students learn about the basics of infrared radiation, greenhouse gas chemistry and the greenhouse effect. In Part B, students learn that historical ice core CO2 and temperature data in combination with more current CO2 and temperature data reveals the relationship between trends in global temperatures and atmospheric CO2 levels. In Part C, students how individuals and families affect the carbon cycle and identify ways to reduce their carbon footprint.

After completing this investigation, students will be able to:

  • Explain how carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases absorb infrared radiation and warm the atmosphere;
  • Explain how scientists use historical ice core CO2 and temperature data in combination with more current CO2 and temperature data to reveal the relationship between trends in global temperatures and atmospheric CO2 levels.

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Overview and Teaching Materials

Detailed overview of what students will do in each lab activity, how long it will take, and what materials are required to complete the lab.

Printable Materials

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Teaching Notes and Tips

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Student Notebooks

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Assessment

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Science Standards

Lab 3 supports following Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Additional Resources

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