Changing ocean chemistry: a high school curriculum on ocean acidification’s cause, impacts, and solutions

This five-lesson curriculum seeks to increase students’ understanding of ocean acidification (OA) and help them understand that it is an issue they can address. There are five lessons in the unit and a final Call to Action project.

Lesson 1 explores a real-life story about the near collapse of the oyster industry in 2007-2009 along the U.S. west coast. It includes an overview of OA and an exploration of how humans have altered the carbon cycle.

Lesson 2 and 3 focus on the chemistry of OA. Lesson 2 looks at pH and how carbon dioxide “acidifies” the water. In Lesson 3, students learn about changes in the carbonate ion concentration, an essential part of calcifying marine organisms that make shells and hard structures made out of calcium carbonate (e.g., shellfish and corals). Students apply what they learn by interpreting water quality data from Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery.

In Lesson 4, students research the possible impacts of OA on ecosystems and humans. Lesson 5 examines potential solutions to OA. Students brainstorm ways to reduce CO2, emissions, identify barriers to taking action, and explore household actions that have the most significant impact.

Finally, students participate in a Call to Action project where they identify a target audience and try to persuade them to take action.

Erickson, B. & Crews T., 2019. Changing ocean chemistry: a high school curriculum on ocean acidification’s cause, impacts, and solutions. Oregon Sea Grant. Publication.

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