Acid Rain And How It Affects Our Environment

Iftner, George Schools, various

Objective Demonstrate phenomenologically the effects of acid rain on our environment and perform long-term "real-time" experiments. Materials 6 Petri dishes, pipette, large bell jar or similar item, sulfuric acid, two 2-liter soft drink containers, 4 small pieces of marble or limestone, continuous strip of chart paper approximately 3 ft by 6 ft, pastel crayons or markers, small growing plant, 4 small pieces of raw fish, 2 green leaves, small amount of soil. Strategies 1. 2 or 3 days in advance, prepare Petri dishes with soil & stone, leaf, and raw fish. One set is to be watered with distilled water, the other wetted thoroughly with 50% sulfuric acid. Keep hidden from view. 2. Prior to the lesson, a) cover an area of chalkboard or wall with the drawing paper; print OUR ENVIRONMENT at the upper right. b) set out the Petri dishes prepared in #1 above, but keep covered from view for the moment. c) make 14 slips of paper, each with one of the following printed on it: LAKE FISH CARS FACTORY WIND SUN FISHERMAN PEOPLE SMOKE TREES RAINCLOUD RIVER HILLS HOUSES 3.Pass out the name slips to 14 students at random. Ask the class if they like to draw. (The response should be most positive - I've yet to see a class at any grade level that didn't like "artwork!") Say something like "Let's make a mural about our environment. This should be fun!" Have the slip recipients come up and draw that which is on their slip. Be complimentary and encourage creativity! Guide each artist as to the approximate location of his/her item...(the factory, cars, sun and smoke should be toward the left end of the production and the other items oriented toward the right.) 4. Admire the production! THEN, complete the title by adding "ACID RAIN AND HOW IT AFFECTS", so that the complete title now reads. "ACID RAIN AND HOW IT AFFECTS OUR ENVIRONMENT" 5. Display the Petrie dishes and show the class how the acid has affected soil/stone, plant, and animal materials compared to the items in plain water. Discuss briefly, then augment the mural with more smoke, rain, and wind, and describe how acid rain is formed. (Tailor the scientific descriptive language to the grade level involved, i.e., don't get involved with chemical formulas unless the class has had some exposure to them.) 6. Create 3 or 4 groups and have the groups spend about 5 minutes listing what effects they think acid rain would have on the various aspects of their mural. Poll the groups for their ideas and develop a list on a chalkboard. Augment the list with any facets the class may not have considered. Be sure to list all ideas even though not specific to acid rain...indicate that these items "fit better" in different topics and will be covered in future lessons. 7. Set up the following long-term experiment: a - Place the potted plant under the bell jar; Add a Petri dish or other small vessel of 10% sulfuric acid; (Maintain plant normally including acid solution). b - Put about one inch of 10-15% sulfuric acid solution into one of the soft drink containers. Suspend a marble or limestone chip above the solution. Cap tightly. c - Duplicate (a) and (b) with water only as controls. d - Put a piece of raw fish in each of two Petri dishes; immerse one in water and cover, immerse the other in weak acid solution and cover. (Note: these pieces of fish will deteriorate but the effect of the acid solution will become evident over a period of time.) 8. Secure articles dealing with acid rain as available and distribute to the class for their further interest and edification. NOTE: SAVE THE MURAL!
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