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SOS: Save Our Shells!

Graduate Fellow Kate Hanson & Teacher Partner Rachel Stein

Ocean acidification, a phenomenon related to current global climate change, is becoming a major threat to marine ecosystems ranging from tropical coral reefs to the chilly waters of the Antarctic. In this lesson, students observe and investigate the mechanisms driving ocean acidification. The lesson and lab make connections to basic chemical principles such as acids/bases and the pH scale. In the first activity, video footage from current oceanographic research is used to assess students’ prior knowledge and develop testable hypotheses from initial observations. In the second and third activities, hypotheses generated by students are tested in student-led experiments conducted in a small group setting. The lesson includes a short lecture and class discussion of ocean acidification at the global scale.


Grade Level: 9-12

Duration: 2-3 days (50 min. class periods)

- Day 1 = review of acid/base chemistry and pH scale (if needed, materials not provided here)

- Day 2 = Activity 1 & Activity 2

- Day 3 = Activity 3 & class discussion 

Environmental Science