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6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Chemistry, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences, Mathematics

Resource Types

  • Experiment
  • Worksheet
  • Data

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Ocean Acidification

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  • In this experiment, students will learn about the pH scale, use pH paper in the experiment, and learn about the role of atmospheric CO2 in ocean acidification.
  • Students will also predict the effects of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems and use the data collected from the experiment to determine the CO2 content of their "seawater".
  • There is a poster, student materials, and a teacher's guide provided for the experiment.
Teaching Tips


  • It allows students to actively add carbon dioxide to water using their breath, offering a link to other class topics such as cellular respiration.
  • Through this exercise, students practice the steps of the scientific method.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The teacher should prepare the materials for the experiment ahead of time, but note that a water pump is not required to mix the salt into the water.


  • Students work in pairs to complete the experiment.
  • This lab exercise could easily be incorporated into chemistry, biology, Earth science, or environmental science classes. 
  • Biology students could further explore organisms that are sensitive to pH changes and create a poster or presentation about it.
  • You could extend the activity and have students write a short essay about how we can curb ocean acidification and protect marine life.
  • Other resources about ocean acidification include this video about saving coral reefs and this brief video from Rutgers Climate Institute.
Scientist Notes
The resource provides a practical guide to simulate ocean acidification in relation to rising levels of atmospheric CO2. This procedure can be replicated. Hence, the resource is valid and recommended for teaching.

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

  • English Language Arts
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • RST.9-10.7 Translate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text into visual form (e.g., a table or chart) and translate information expressed visually or mathematically (e.g., in an equation) into words.
  • Mathematics
    • Statistics & Probability: Interpreting Categorical & Quantitative Data (9-12)
      • HSS.ID.A.3 Interpret differences in shape, center, and spread in the context of the data sets, accounting for possible effects of extreme data points (outliers).
  • Science
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-4. Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems.
      • HS-ESS3-6. Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • MS-LS2-2. Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple ecosystems.
      • HS-LS2-5. Develop a model to illustrate the role of photosynthesis and cellular respiration in the cycling of carbon among the biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere.
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