As a High School or Undergraduate Chemistry or Environmental Sciences teacher, you can use this set of computer-based tools to teach about allotropy, various allotropes of carbon and their structural and physical properties, black carbon, sources of black carbon and its impact on Earth’s climate.
This lesson plan will help students understand the concept of allotropy and various allotropes of carbons. Students will learn about black carbon, the effect of black carbon on the Earth’s albedo and therefore, its impact on the climate. This lesson plan will also help students to understand how the immediate effect of controlling black carbon emission can potentially slow down the rate of global warming.
Thus, the use of this lesson plan allows you to integrate the teaching of a climate science topic with a core topic in Chemistry or Environmental Sciences.
Use this lesson plan to help your students find answers to:
- What are allotropes? What are the various allotropes of carbon and their properties?
- What are the sources of black carbon?
- What are the different effects of black carbon on clouds? How does it modify rainfall pattern?
- How does the deposition of black carbon on ice caps affect melting of the ice?
- Explain how black carbon can have a cooling or warming effect on the planet?
- What is the effect of black carbon on human health?
A teacher-contributed lesson plan by Dr. Shefali Shukla, Sri Venkateswara College (University of Delhi), India.
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About Lesson Plan
|Grade Level||High school, Undergraduate|
|Discipline||Chemistry, Environmental Sciences|
|Topic(s) in Discipline||Allotropy, Allotropes of carbon, Black Carbon
Sources of Black Carbon
Heating and Cooling Effects of Black Carbon,
Effect of Black Carbon on Human Health
Black Carbon Albedo, Black Carbon Emission
|Climate Topic||Climate and the Atmosphere, The Greenhouse Gas Effect, Climate and the Anthroposphere|
|A reading that defines what is allotropy and describes some allotropes of carbon with their properties and uses.|
(~ 6 min)
|A video that introduces black carbon, an allotrope of carbon and describes its impact on health and climate.|
|A reading that describes the albedo effect of black carbon and how it affects the nature and formation of clouds, resulting in both, a warming and cooling effect on the Earth’s surface.|
|Classroom /Laboratory Activity
|For high school students:
A laboratory activity to demonstrate the effect of black carbon on surface temperatures.
A classroom activity to discuss the implications of black carbon emissions on health and climate.
Here is a step-by-step guide to using this lesson plan in the classroom/laboratory. We have suggested these steps as a possible plan of action. You may customize the lesson plan according to your preferences and requirements.
Step 1: Topic introduction and discussion (Go to the Reading)
- Use this textbook reading, ‘Allotropes of Carbon’, provided by Lumen Learning, to introduce allotropy and discuss the various allotropes of carbon.
- Use this tool to explain the structural details of carbon allotropes, their physical and chemical properties and their applications, especially in materials science.
Step 2 : Discuss an allotrope of carbon- Black Carbon (Go to the Video)
- Use the video, ‘Black Carbon’ by NBC News Learn, to introduce the topic of black carbon, an allotrope of carbon and describe its sources.
- Use the video to describe its impact on health and climate. Explain using the video, how black carbon contributes to global warming by altering the albedo of clouds and land and ice surfaces.
- Discuss how cutting down black carbon emissions can have an immediate impact on the greenhouse effect caused by it.
Step 3 : Develop the topic further (Go to the Reading)
- Use the feature article, ‘Black Carbon and Warming: It’s Worse than We Thought’, by Carl Zimmer in YaleEnvironment360, published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, to discuss a report that suggests that black carbon is second only to carbon dioxide in its heat trapping power.
- Use the reading to explain to your students, the various ways in which clouds are affected by soot or black carbon.
- Discuss how the albedo effect of black carbon, especially in clouds, affects Earth’s atmosphere as well as its surface temperatures.
- Emphasize how black carbon deposition is speeding up the melting of Himalayan Glaciers.
- Finally, explain why a reduction in black carbon emissions could cause an immediate slowdown of the planet’s warming.
Step 4 : Classroom/Laboratory Activity
For high school students: (Go to the Activity for high school)
- Use this inquiry-based hands on laboratory activity, ‘Changing Planet: Black Carbon- A Dusty Situation’, adapted by Missy Holzer, Jennifer Bergman, and Roberta Johnson of the NESTA/Windows to the Universe team, to help the students to understand the albedo effect of black carbon.
- Follow the instructions to obtain data for the surface heat absorption capacity of varying concentrations of black carbon on paper.
- Materials for set-up including students’ worksheets are listed in the right-hand column of the summary table.
- Use the graphed data to discuss with your students the influence of black carbon on the heat absorption ability of the Earth’s surface.
- Discuss how cutting down of black carbon emissions can reduce global surface temperatures.
For undergraduates: (Go to the Activity for undergraduates)
- Use this group activity, ‘Energy and the Poor- Black Carbon in the Developing Nations’, by Science Education Research Center at Carleton College (SERC Carleton), to discuss how the burning of fossil fuels and biomass-based fuels results in black carbon emissions in developing countries.
- Use this activity to enable students to ‘critically evaluate the impacts of varied household energy sources, synthesize a wide range of social, health and environmental impacts and generate solutions to these problems’.
- The plan includes downloadable notes for students and teachers with suggested points for discussion.
- Use the activity plan to direct a ‘jigsaw’-method of discussion where individuals within groups research and summarize their findings on varied selected topics related to black carbon, its impacts, and solutions and then re-group to summarize their findings in a ‘concept-map’ to represent all the aspects of discussion.