Sunday, February 28, 2016


In Mr.  Reiva’s junior/senior physics classes, students conduct a scientific investigation into the effects of carbon dioxide gas upon the heating of the Earth’s atmosphere.  This investigation is designed to confirm the effect of increased concentration of carbon dioxide gas in the atmosphere and the ability of this gas to absorb and store radiant energy from the sun.

In physics class, students have learned about the transfer of energy into closed systems and also the process of transforming energy from one form to another within the system.  Students utilize their understanding of the flow of energies and quantitatively assess energy transfer mechanisms that exist with respect to the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Students use newly designed and constructed experimental apparatus to help improve the efficiency of the transfer of energy from radiant energy produced by a light bulb into the kinetic energy of gaseous molecules housed in a 2 liter plastic bottles.

Time spent on brainstorming ideas for original experimental apparatus designs eventually leads to the beginning of the construction process.   Students utilize material resources from the physics science classroom and build their experimental apparatus.

The testing begins with students placing a 2 liter bottle housing an atmosphere 1800ml of air and 200 ml of liquid water.  The designed experimental apparatus helps direct radiant energy into the bottle and atmosphere with greater efficiency.

Ideas for original experimental apparatus are brought into use as quantities of air and quantities of carbon dioxide are tested for their heat absorption capability.

Teams of students, work together, will not only create an experimental procedure using their experimental apparatus, but also study the effects that carbon dioxide has upon the absorption of radiant energy.

The rate of the rise in temperature of the atmosphere within the bottle system is recorded as part of the experimental process.  The resulting data collected on temperature with respect to time will be graphed and statistically assessed to determine a relationship.

Students determine the validity of their hypothesis on the effects of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by critically assessing the relationship between the physical composition of gases and their ability to absorb radiant energy.  This radiant energy is stored within the system as vibrational kinetic energy of gas molecules.

Students, working on project-based scientific research, present their findings to their peers in the physics science classroom.

This team of students produced evidence of the rate of heating of carbon dioxide gas of over 100 percent greater than a similar volume of air.

These students utilized their newly designed and constructed experimental apparatus that helped to increase the efficiency of radiant energy transfer into both the air and carbon dioxide gases.

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