As a teacher of high school or undergraduate Chemistry, you can use this set of computer-based tools when teaching the pH scale, acids and bases, acidification and Environmental Chemistry.

Your current lesson plan can be augmented with this additional classroom/laboratory activity that allows students to understand the pH scale and acidification by analyzing the effect of atmospheric carbon dioxide on ocean chemistry. The activity will also explore the potential effects of climate change on ocean acidification, and the possible impacts of ocean acidification on marine organisms.

Thus, the use of this toolkit allows you to integrate the teaching of a climate science topic with a core topic in Chemistry.

Teaching Toolkit Metadata
Discipline Chemistry
Grade Level High school, Undergraduate
Related Core Curriculum Topics pH Scale, Acids and Bases, Acidification, Ocean Carbonate Chemistry, Seawater Chemistry, Aragonite Saturation State, Ocean Acidity
Region Global, USA
Availability Online (some material can be downloaded for offline use)
Languages English (Visualization tool available in English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish)
IT competency required Intermediate

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Resources in the Toolkit
This toolkit includes a micro-lecture, a proposed classroom/laboratory activity, a computer-based interactive visualization tool, and additional resources. A step-by-step guide to use the toolkit is also provided.

Contents of Toolkit

1. Micro-lecture (approx. 6 min) To explain the interaction of atmospheric CO2 with the ocean, and the possible effects of ocean acidification on marine life
2. A classroom/laboratory activity To conduct a classroom/laboratory activity allowing the students to explore and analyze the relationship between the growth of oyster larvae and the chemistry of ocean water by using data from the Whiskey Creek Hatchery in Oregon, USA
3. An interactive visualization tool To foster systems thinking and interactive learning while learning about the pH scale, ocean acidification, and the potential impact of rising atmospheric CO2 levels on marine animals
4.Additional resources To explore the topic in more details

Using the Toolkit

 1. Topic introduction and discussion
  •  Introduce the topic of acids and bases
  • Proceed with your existing lesson plan to explain the pH scale.
  • Discuss the pH values of various common compounds.
  • Give a few examples of chemical reactions that generate acids and bases.
 2. Play micro-lecture (video)


Now play this micro-lecture (approx. 6 min) provided by the National Science Foundation and NBC Learn (available on Science360 News Service) to explain how carbon dioxide (CO2) affects the pH of the ocean and how an increase in ocean acidification might adversely impact marine animals.
 3. Classroom/Laboratory activity Now, explore this topic in an engaging manner through a classroom/laboratory activity:

 4. Interactive Visualization and Activity


Next, use the visualization, “Our Acidifying Ocean,” from the Inquiry to Student Environmental Action (I2SEA) project for an interactive learning session. This tool is available in English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish.The tools is available at:

Note: This tool requires a Flash player, and therefore, may not play in some browsers. The visualization tool works well in Firefox and MS Edge.

If you or your students would like to explore the topic further, these additional resources will be useful.
Additional Resources
1. Reading  “What is ocean acidification?” from the European Project on Ocean Acidification (EPOCA):

News Report: Effects of rising ocean acidification on fisheries in spotlight

 2. Video Watch the short film, “Ocean acidification: Connecting science, industry, policy and public,” from Plymouth Marine Laboratory:
 3. Laboratory Activity Learn more through this hands-on laboratory activity to understand and examine the effect of anthropogenic carbon dioxide on oceans and marine animals:

Related Images
(image courtesy of George Waldbusser and Elizabeth Brunner, Oregon State University)
 1. Micro-lecture The National Science Foundation and NBC Learn
 2Classroom/Laboratory Activity Hilary Palevsky, UW Oceanography, University of Washington Program on Climate Change
 3. Interactive Tool, Our Acidifying Ocean Inquiry to Student Environmental Action (I2SEA) project
 4. Additional Resources
 5. Images NOAA Ocean Acidification Program

Climate Central

George Waldbusser and Elizabeth Brunner, Oregon State University

All the pedagogical tools and images in our collated list are owned by the corresponding creators/authors/organizations as listed on their websites. Please view the individual copyright and ownership details for each tool by following the individual links provided.
We have selected and analyzed the tools that align with the overall objective of our project and have provided the corresponding links. We do not claim ownership of or responsibility/liability for any of the listed tools and images.

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