Greenhouse Effect Lab

Krista Larsen
Shorecrest High School
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Initial Publication Date: February 21, 2017 | Reviewed: December 10, 2020


In this lab, students measure temperature changes inside soda bottles (one with CO2 added, the other with only air inside) as incandescent light is shined on them to model the Greenhouse Effect.

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AP Environmental Science high school course, could be used in other middle or high school settings

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Atmospheric composition
Electromagnetic radiation

How the activity is situated in the course

This lab is used on one of the first days I begin teaching about climate change. I typically conduct an Albedo lab prior to this, but it is not necessary.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Greenhouse effect
Effect of carbon dioxide on temperature change

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Students use their own data to come to understand the greenhouse effect.

Other skills goals for this activity

Conclusion writing based on data collected.

Description of the activity/assignment

In this simple lab, students collect data to demonstrate basic atmospheric science concepts. Groups of students measure the effect of carbon dioxide on temperature using soda bottles with thermometers inserted. One bottle is filled with air and capped. The second bottle is filled with carbon dioxide using a specific procedure. To conduct the experiment, both bottles are placed under a lamp while students record the increase in temperature over five minutes. The bottle containing carbon dioxide has a greater increase in temperature than the bottle containing air. This lab demonstrates the fundamental concept that underlies climate change science by providing data that are easy for students to interpret.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Students write a conclusion addressing specific points which is graded. Also, I end the lab with a class discussion of what was observed.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Teaching materials and tips

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