i-Tree Unit Lesson 3: Carbon Footprint


Activity Description: 

Through the experiment conducted in Lesson 2: Evaporation Lab, students concluded that higher atmospheric temperature causes an increase in evaporation which results in more precipitation. In Lesson 3, students first calculate the carbon footprint of their morning commute to school to realize that different modes of transportation produce varying amounts of carbon dioxide  Next, they conduct an experiment to explore how producing carbon dioxide impacts the ecosystem. The experiment emphasizes that higher amounts of carbon dioxide cause the local air temperature to rise. This bridges the concepts learned from Lessons 1 and 2 that higher air temperatures cause an increase in evaporation and precipitation. Students are asked to reflect on how their daily commute to school contributes to the carbon cycle. The background information provides context for the ways that trees can mitigate levels of carbon dioxide in the air and impact local temperature.

Educational Standards: 

Next Generation Science Standards:

MS­ESS3­5: Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.

Common Core:

CCSS.ELA ­LITERACY.RST.6­8.7: Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).

Pre-Activity Prep: 
  • Drill holes in each of the soda bottle caps for the thermometers to fit through
  • Fill each soda bottle with 3 cups of water

Slideshow: What is your carbon footprint?

Materials per lab group

  • 2 empty 2 liter soda bottles with caps
  • Water
  • Masking tape 
  • Markers
  • 1 package of effervescent tablets
  • Salt dough (1/4 cup salt, 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup water)
  • 2 thermometers
  • 2 lamps (60 watt bulb, Lamp holder w/outlet)
  • 1 timer
One Class Period
i-Tree, http://www.itreelessons.com/