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Paleontological Research Institution


6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th


Science, Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics, Health

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YouTube Video

Parts per Million: A Little Is a Lot

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  • This video demonstrates the concept of PPM and how very small changes in concentration can affect the look, smell, taste, functioning, or quality of an entire system.
  • The examples in the video relate to all five of our senses, connect to greenhouse gas emissions, and help them resonate with students.
Teaching Tips


  • The length of this video makes it readily usable for typical class times, making it easy to integrate into a variety of lessons.
  • The explanations are understandable enough for younger students, and the concepts are subtle enough for older students to take deeper implications.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students need to understand multiplication, division, and powers of ten.


  • There is more detailed information included in the examples (such as chemical formulas) that older students can use for practice with substrates, products, and converting units.
  • Classes can replicate some of the examples in the video as a lab or do similar experiments to explore ppm.
  • Biology classes can connect this topic to the evolutionary reason for our sense of smell being so powerful or why small differences in molecular weight can make a big difference in processes such as photosynthesis or cellular respiration for some organisms.
  • Chemistry classes can examine why these small changes in greenhouse gas concentrations can make such a large difference in global climate conditions.
  • Younger students can focus on the main ideas presented and use it as a guide for classroom lab experiments.
Scientist Notes
The video shares good examples to aid our understanding of ppm and the impact a part can do to an entire system. This is critical given how the atmospheric CO2 concentrations have increased due to human activities. It draws our attention to change our behavior towards a better and net-zero world. This resource is ideal for classroom.

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

  • Mathematics
    • The Number System (6-8)
      • 6.NS.B.3 Fluently add, subtract, multiply, and divide multi-digit decimals using the standard algorithm for each operation.
  • Science
    • LS1: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
      • 5-LS1-1. Support an argument that plants get the materials they need for growth chiefly from air and water.
      • MS-LS1-8. Gather and synthesize information that sensory receptors respond to stimuli by sending messages to the brain for immediate behavior or storage as memories.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • 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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