Carbon Footprint


1 Scientific and Engineering Practices

1. Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)

2. Developing and using models

3. Planning and carrying out investigations

4. Analyzing and interpreting data

5. Using mathematics and computational thinking

6. Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)

7. Engaging in argument from evidence

8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

2 Crosscutting Concepts

1. Patterns

2. Cause and effect: Mechanism and explanation

3. Scale, proportion, and quantity

4. Systems and system models

5. Energy and matter: Flows, cycles, and conservation

6. Structure and function

7. Stability and change

Chemistry, Life Science and Earth Science Performance Expectations

HS-ESS2-6 Develop a quantitative model to describe the cycling of carbon among the hydrosphere, atmosphere, geosphere, and biosphere.

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. 

Chemistry of Carbon Dioxide

"Carbon dioxide (chemical formula CO2) is a colorless and odorless gas vital to life on Earth. This naturally occurring chemical compound is composed of a carbon atom covalently double bonded to two oxygen atoms. Carbon dioxide exists in Earth's atmosphere as a trace gas at a concentration of about 0.04 percent (400 ppm) by volume. Natural sources include volcanoes, hot springs and geysers, and it is freed from carbonate rocks by dissolution in water and acids. Because carbon dioxide is soluble in water, it occurs naturally in groundwater, rivers and lakes, in ice caps and glaciers and also in seawater. It is present in deposits of petroleum and natural gas." (Wikipedia)

  • Properties of carbon dioxide
  • carbonate rock in e
  • Importance of carbon dioxide
    • 6 CO+ 6 H2O → C6H12O+ 6 O2  (photosynthesis)
    •  C6H12O6 + 6O2  → 6CO2 + 6H2O + 2900 kJ/mol (respiration)
Carbon dioxide activities
  • carbonation (movie)
  • vinegar and baking soda - put out candle
NaHCO3(s) + CH3COOH(l) → CO2(g) + H2O(l) + Na+(aq) + CH3COO-(aq)

    Trends in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Concentration

    carbon footprint is "the total set of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by an organization, event, product or person."[1] Greenhouse gases can be emitted through transport, land clearance, and the production and consumption of food, fuels, manufactured goods, materials, wood, roads, buildings, and services.[2] For simplicity of reporting, it is often expressed in terms of the amount ocarbon dioxide, or its equivalent of other GHGs, emitted. (Source: Wikipedia).

    Data Entry

    1. Calculate your personal carbon footprint.
    2. How much carbon dioxide was released by commuting between your school and the university?  Determine the distance that you commute from your home to school.  
    3. Complete the survey.

    Mapping Greenhouse Gasses where you live

    1. EPA learning activity
    2. EPA Carbon Dioxide monitoring
    3. Enter your findings in the quickwrite provided by your instructor

    Results and Analysis

    1. Explain the ecological significance and implications of the two graphs shown above. 
    2. Examine each tab at the bottom of the spreadsheet.   
    3. Examine the data - How does your commute compare to that of others in the survey?
    1. Examine the map and determine identify groups of people that could carpool.
    2. Review World Trends on Carbon Dioxide Emissions (Gapminder).  How does your carbon footprint compare with the average carbon footprint of other Americans?  How does it compare with the carbon footprint of Haitians? (Haiti is the poorest country in the western Hemisphere)

    Visualization of a metric ton of carbon dioxide