CarboSchools: General CO2 chemistry (Sharing Experiments cont.)

søndag 3 mai 2009, kl. 23:47 | Publisert i Konferanser og kurs | 1 kommentar
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Mariana Pirillo (Italy): Demonstration of different chemical reactions which produce CO2

Mariana starts by telling us that the teaching in the Italian schools are quite different from what I’m used to. All the lessons are based as lectures, with no room for the students to work with exercises, tasks, experiments, collaborative work etc in the school. This is something the students are supposed to do after school (more like our universities). This means that it can be hard to find enough time to do these hands-on experiments.

But she has found her way – and her recipe for getting the students involved is:

  1. Ask a question (or two) – “Why are we interested in CO2?”
  2. Get the students to do some background research
  3. Then get them to make a hypothesis before doing the experiment
  4. Testing of the hypothesis by hands-on experiments
  5. Communicate your results


Making CO2 of fizz powder.

  1. Weight of CO2 – fill two balloons, one with air (air pump) and one with CO2. Which balloon is most heavy?
  2. CO2 in water – what happens with the pH?

Sally (Germany): Demonstration of experiments on CO2 in seawater (solubility, buffering capacity, CO3)

Sally showed experiments that she has used with her 11-14 year old students, but these experiments can be used with students all the way through high school as well.

She starts up with the red cabbage experiment to get the understanding of acids and bases.

Then she addresses the main question for the students:

“Why and how can seawater be a sink of atmospheric CO2?”

Two glass jars – one with freshwater and one with seawater. Add acid (vinegar) and base (soap), and measure the change in pH for every drop that is added. Hopefully the students will see the buffer capacity of the seawater.

“Why has seawater this buffer capacity?”

Blow (CO2) in the glass jars (with/pH sensors in them, close the opening with cotton) until the pH doesn’t change anymore. “Why?”
Compare freshwater and seawater.

Crush some eggshell and put this in the freshwater that is saturated with CO2. Check the change in pH.
Do the same with the acidic seawater, and compare the results. The eggshell will not dissolve in the latter because the pH will not be low enough (it is of course a time issues though…)

Addition of carbonate will raise the pH value again.

It is possible to have an experiment with algae, and see the effect of phytoplankton on pH and CO2.

Solubility of CO2 and temperature

Sally found the idea for this experiment on the internet, but has modified it for her students. Fizz tablets in water, measure amount of gas, compare warm and cold water.

Sally uses these experiments with quite young students, but I can use these with my upper secondary students as well. Interesting.

CarboSchools: Meteorology (Sharing Experiments cont.)

søndag 3 mai 2009, kl. 19:28 | Publisert i Geofag, Konferanser og kurs | 5 kommentarer
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Maddalena Macario (Italy): an open source for teaching environmental education

Maddalena has focused on the Earth’s Atmosphere in her CarboSchools teaching. The context is the third year at upper secondary school (16 yrs old), after they’ve studied the gasous substances.

Duration of activity: 6 hours

Started up with lectures about the atmospheric composition and different meteorological phenomena. Weather forecasts, extreme weather, energy balance, humidity…

Maddalena has experience from different hands-on experiments, and she has found some ideas at the CS library. One experiment about humidity and saturation, and expanded with including aerosols to see how that effects the saturation values.

They also have a weather station at this school in Prato, and they have included their data at SchoolCO2web.


Hmmm, I’ve tried to draw the same graph as Maddalena did – with air pressure and humidity in the same graph, but the is a database connection failure. Maybe there should be a table about which dates there exists data from the different stations??

Maddalena has combined graphs with measured humidity and air pressure with the students weather forecasts, to show the commection between a higher humidity and low pressures.

The third experiment is about the greenhouse effect. It looks a bit like Rocer’s experiment.

The fourth experiment is about cloud formation due to condensation particles. This experiment is the same as I experiences at the ASE conference earlier this year, and at the Geofag teacher’s course in Oslo. (Create cloud in a bottle: Water in a bottle – smoke from a match to include smoke particles – increase pressure bu squeezing the bottle).

One of the problems she has experienced: links to websites keep changing (important to include date and time for the web pages) – databases are not stable – SchoolCO2web is not stable, makes it hard to compare your own data with data from other schools in the CarboSchools programme.

Needs: dynamic sites (blogs, fora, exchanging experiences); a database with experiments categorized by theme, key words, age of the students; news letters from CS library.

My remarks: This was very interesting – she teaches a lot of the same themes as I have in my Geoscience lectures. Nice to meet someone with this experience 😉

Nå har jeg registrert meg på Bloggurat.

CarboSchools – Sharing experiments

fredag 1 mai 2009, kl. 17:54 | Publisert i Geofag, Konferanser og kurs | 1 kommentar
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May 1st – free time to finish my blog posts about the CarboSchools meeting in Pistoia.

Monday 27th of April it was time for Sharing Experiments. The morning session included Presentation of Experiments and Activities, whereas the afternoon session included parallel activities (workshops, outdoor activities, hands-on experiments, video showings, photo galleries, poster presentations)

Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere

Francesca (Italy): CO2 measurements in the different areas of the school

A short presentation of an experiment done with students at a school in Prato. They used an instrument for measuring CO2 in the schools classrooms with and without students, smoking areas, the school yard… The students also wanted to explore the difference in CO2 pressure with altitude – the school has four floors and the student did measurements in different heights. They presented their results at posters.

Anna (Spain) with teachers: Measurement of CO2 along a transect running from a higher to a lower altitude

3 different schools outside of Barcelona – measuring CO2 at different altitudes, looking for difference between the coast and further up the mountain sides.

  • differences between land and countryside due to land use
  • CO2 mixing due to wind, sea breezes, catabatic winds
  • inversion layers – instabilities in the atmosphere – orographic lift – convection

Conceptual objectives

  1. Learn how to measure meteorological parameters using proper devices
  2. Georeference technologies and topographic maps (GPS Google Earth)
  3. Work with spreadsheets
  4. Procedural objectives
  5. Apply the scientific method
  6. Develop autonomic skills
  7. Cooperative work between scientists, students and teachers

Material needed

  1. CO2 sensor with support (Vaisala)
  2. Portable meteorological station
  3. Solar radiation and rain protection (umbrella)
  4. Anemometer and barometer
  5. Topographic maps
  6. Filling in the worksheet
  7. GPS

Development of the activity

  1. Description of the measurement site
  2. Description of the meteorological situation
  3. Measurement of meteorological parameters
  4. Measurement for CO2 6 min
  5. Other interesting things  the site (traffic etc)

Later the students will meet as scientists and exchange their results with each other.

This was really interesting, I’d like to try some of this with my students, and maybe have a similar exchange with other schools in Bergen who teaches geo-science. I need more experience with the data loggers the school bought earlier this year.

Roser (Spain): Hands-On Experiments in the Classroom

Roser showed us several small hands-on experiments that she has used in her classroom – experiments that show the effect of CO2, water vapour and SO2 on temperature. Necessary equipment – glass jars, plasticine, temperature sensors, beakers, water, yeast, sugar / glucose, vinegar, sodic hydrogen carbonate. These experiments are easy to bring into our classrooms – this is what teachers want 🙂

Example – The greenhouse effect (this is from Roser’s own work)
What you need:
  • Three glass jars with lid. The lid has to have a hole to introduce the temperature sensor or the thermometer.
  • Plasticine
  • Temperature sensors or thermometers
  • Two beakers
  • Water
  • Yeast and sugar (glucose), or, vinegar and sodic hydrogen carbonate, which will provide CO2
  • Spoon
  • Light
The activity
  • To obtain CO2 there are two possibilities: mixing vinegar and sodic hydrogen carbonate or adding sugar to a mixture of warm water and yeast.
  • To obtain water vapour we will use a beaker with water.
  • You have to put a beaker with the mixture producing CO2 in a glass jar. Another beaker with water in another glass jar, and we also need an empty glass jar.
  • You have to put the three jars in the Sun with the sensors or the thermometers inside. We need an extra sensor or thermometer to measure the outside temperature. Be careful to put it in a place that has only contact with the air.
  • We will measure the initial temperature and the temperature changes every 5 minutes during 15 minutes if we are using thermometers or you can take continuous data if you have sensors. In each case note the temperature changes every 5 minutes.

ASE: EarthLearningIdea Presentation

fredag 9 januar 2009, kl. 14:23 | Publisert i Geofag, Konferanser og kurs | Legg igjen en kommentar
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Her var vi bare tre deltakere, og tre presentatører. Men vi hadde det veldig kjekt. Vi gikk gjennom 10 av de praktiske eksemplene som vi finner på siden Nå ligger det ute 58 eksempler, og en god del er oversatt til norsk. Ingen av «forsøkene» krever komplisert eller dyrt utstyr, men man må like å leke litt med vann og sand og jord (leke er et stikkord her). Veldig illustrative eksempler for prosesser som kan være vanskelig å visualisere for elevene. De fleste forsøkene passer best til geofaglige fag – men der er også noen som passer godt for fysikk eller biologi. De har også en blogg som man kan legge inn i sin RSS-feed

Ellers gjorde jeg ikke mange notater her, fordi vi stort sett var aktive.

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