Environmental Science 2005
Shodor > SUCCEED > Workshops > Archive > Environmental Science 2005

Today, the students in Environmental Science started off by introducing themselves for the benefit of the instructor and the other students, along with a place they had been, and described some of the environment there. Then, the students talked about global warming and what they knew about it. More specifically, they talked about ozone, the ozone layer, how it blocks ultraviolet light, and the effects if it is destroyed. Also greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4), were discussed, along with their chemical structures and how they affect the human body and other living things.

The students performed an experiment using baking soda (NaHCO3) and vinegar (HC2H3O2) in order to see CO2. The chemicals react and eventually form 3 molecules: H2CO3 (carbonic acid), C2H3O2- (acetate ion) & Na-. Afterwards, the carbonic acid further disassociates into H2O and CO2. One of the students blew an ordinary soap bubble, and the students discovered why it fell to the ground instead of flying up to the ceiling. Then, one student poured vinegar onto the baking soda, which was in an aquarium. Of course, the vinegar reacting with the baking soda created bubbles, or "fizzed". Another student blew soap bubbles into the aquarium to see what happened. The bubbles fell down to a few inches above the vinegar and baking soda mixture because of gravity, and then bobbed up and down in the invisible nitrogen layer formed by the chemical reaction, then fell down into the liquid.

Then, the students used a computer model of the atmosphere made at the University of Chicago. The model allowed the user to set variables such as the amount of CO2 or ozone. It showed the number of Watts (a unit of light measurement) that escape from earth in a given square kilometer in the atmosphere approximately 70 km above the earth. They then adjusted the variables for the values before the industrial age. About 2 more watts per square meter escaped from earth's atmosphere, which made the earth cooler. All of the light that doesn't escape is kept inside the atmosphere, and heats the Earth. From only the state of North Carolina, 300 billion watts stay in the atmosphere, which did not before the industrial age. All of this causes the state to heat up. This is called the greenhouse effect. This has already caused the temperature to rise by 2 degrees!

Finally, the students entered their daily reports.