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Activity

Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Background: Dr. Art's Guide to Science, pages 229-234.

Purpose:
Many of the things that we do increase the emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Whenever we burn a fossil fuel to drive our car, heat our homes, make hot water, or provide the electricity used by our television or other electrical devices, we take carbon that was previous locked out of today's carbon cycle and inject it into the atmosphere. Other industrial activities, such as manufacturing cement, emit significant amounts of carbon dioxide. This exercise dramatically illustrates the different amounts of carbon dioxide emission made by citizens in different countries.

Equipment and Supplies:
A group of 20 people; 30 black balloons; Engaging displays for different continents (e.g., flags, or travel posters, or symbols such as football helmet, beret, serape)

Duration:
Demonstration Mode- 15 minutes

Procedures: Demonstration Mode

  1. Explain that many societal activities result in the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Distinguish between this industrial emission and the respiration/photosynthesis cycle. Elicit comments about whether different lifestyles would result in different amounts of carbon dioxide emissions.

  2. Select 20 students to represent the entire world population. Divide the group into five sub-groups (see chart below).

  3. Distribute 30 black balloons among the groups using the chart below.

  4. Have participants discuss the results. If necessary, ask leading questions such as, "What would be the effect of everyone in Asia living like a North American?"

AREA POP.% #/20 BALLOONS
AFRICA 17% 3 1
EUROPE 12% 2 7
NORTH AMERICA 5% 1 8
CENTRAL + S. AMERICA 9% 2 2
ASIA 56% 12 12

Procedure: Inquiry Mode
Same as above except provide world population tables, carbon emission tables, and balloons. Have participants work in groups to decide how they will depict the information. Have the groups share their ideas. If necessary, include the demo mode as one way of presenting the information.



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