Transformations in Matter and Energy Carbon TIME is an NSF-funded partnership led by Michigan State University
Human Energy Systems | Activity 3.2
Target Student Performance
Students use a computer simulation to explain how carbon dioxide absorbs visible light and emits infrared radiation—the Greenhouse Effect.
- 3.2 The Greenhouse Effect Reading
- 3.2 The Greenhouse Effect Simulation Worksheet
- 3.2 Grading The Greenhouse Effect Simulation Worksheet
- Greenhouse Effect PhET simulation: https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/greenhouse
- Optional data (“Global Warming's Six Americas”) of attitudes toward climate change: https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/green/reports/2009/05/19/6042/global-warmings-six-americas/
Prepare enough copies of the 3.2 The Greenhouse Effect Reading for each student to have one. Prepare enough copies of the 3.2 The Greenhouse Effect Simulation Worksheet for each pair or team of students. Download the PhET Simulation on the computers used by students by going to this link: https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/greenhouse
Note that you may need to modify the security preferences on some computers in order to open the simulation.
Listen for students’ initial ideas about how atmospheric CO2 and temperature are connected. Do they see a causal relationship? At this point, they may have many unanswered questions about how increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere lead to climate change. However, at the end of this activity, they should have a good understanding of how increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere lead to warmer temperatures as a result of the greenhouse effect. If the students are still having trouble making this connection, you may want to show the students different models of the greenhouse effect that help explain this phenomenon.
If you choose to have students take the optional survey in step 7, you may want to ask students to turn in their results anonymously. This will give you an assessment of the range of attitudes in your classroom but will not stigmatize individuals based on their profile results.