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Database Provider

Author

Tom Schuler

Grades

9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

Subjects

Science, Chemistry, Earth and Space Sciences, Engineering

Regional Focus

Global

Format

Downloadable MP4/M4V

How We Could Make Carbon-Negative Concrete

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Synopsis
  • In this TED talk, Tom Schuler describes how an innovative technique for making concrete can dramatically reduce cement's carbon footprint and save an enormous amount of water. 
  • This new type of concrete could not only reduce the carbon footprint of cement manufacturing, but it could potentially transform it into a carbon sink, making the concrete carbon negative. 
Teaching Tips

Positives

  • The cement industry is responsible for an enormous amount of carbon emissions. This video provides a brief overview of a solution to an often overlooked problem.
  • The video provides a transcript and subtitles in many languages. 

Additional Prerequisites

  • Although it is mentioned in the Ted Talk, students may benefit from a brief overview of the difference between cement and concrete and how they are made before watching the video.
  • Before watching the video, consider having students highlight words they do not know or understand on a copy of the transcript and go over any new vocabulary.

Differentiation

  • Consider printing out copies of the transcript for students to reference while watching the clip. 
  • Students in chemistry classes could watch this video and then learn about the chemical reactions that take place when low-carbon, zero-carbon, or carbon-negative cement and concrete are made.
  • Engineering classes could analyze the criteria and constraints of this new solution for the concrete industry.
  • Similar resources include this animated video on concrete production and this video about making concrete production more sustainable.
Scientist Notes
This TED talk presents a quick overview of concrete manufacturing and how carbon-negative concrete production might help us address the climate crisis. The particular method discussed uses a new method of manufacturing concrete that cures using carbon dioxide rather than water, thereby sequestering carbon dioxide. The concepts in this resource are clear and well presented. This resource is recommended for teaching.
Standards

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • Science
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-4. Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • HS-ETS1-1. Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants.
      • HS-ETS1-3. Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.
    • PS1: Matter and Its Interactions
      • HS-PS1-2. Construct and revise an explanation for the outcome of a simple chemical reaction based on the outermost electron states of atoms, trends in the periodic table, and knowledge of the patterns of chemical properties.
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