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The Youth Press Agency is an initiative of youth partecipation through the creative use of new and traditional tools of communication and information promoted by the association Viração&Jangada in collaboration with the association In Medias Res, associations of youth and schools.
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04/11/2017, 18:57

science, experiments, COY13, Climate Change



Experimenting-Climate-Change


 Discover the effects of Climate Change through 4 simple experiments that you can do at home!



How can we let people know about climate change? How can we put in a simple way a very complex phenomenon such as carbon dioxide emissions? Three students of Biology, members of the Moroccan association Les Petits Debrouillards succeeded in finding the best solution to the problem: they designed some simple experiments that help people to understand the effects of the CO2  in the atmosphere and brought them to the COY13. Obviously, we couldn’t miss the chance! You only need some simple tools such as baking soda, vinegar and a balloon in order to represent in a simple way the complex theme of the climate climate change.

"What happens to the atmosphere when it becomes full of the CO2 released by the factories?", this was the first question posed by the researchers to the young audience. The most common answer was: "Greenhouse Effect". This is a natural phenomenon that is actually necessary to the Earth and its  development. If there weren’t greenhouse gases, the average temperature of the atmosphere would be -15 °C. At the same time, a massive increase of CO2, like the one we have been experiencing in the last decades, poses a serious threat to humans, animals and plants. 

The members of the association conducted some ingenious experiments to explain the problems related to the emission of CO2: global warming, sea level rise and seawater acidification. Would you like to know more about the effects of climate change? Have a go!

EXPERIMENT 1 - OVERHEATING


What you need:
  • 2 glass bowls
  • 2 glasses
  • 2 thermometers
  • 1 lamp
  • baking soda
  • vinegarwater

Purpose:
To show how carbon dioxide favours overheating. The first bowl contains normal air, while the second one shows how the air in the future will be. The heat, which the atmosphere absorbs over the years, is reproduced with a lamp pointed on the two bowls. Under each bowl there is also a thermometer to check the final temperature at the end of the activities. Which one of the two atmospheres will be the warmer? The one with the CO2 or the one with normal air?

Let’s start:
  1. Firstly put one thermometer next to each glass. 
  2. Then put in the first glass water and in the second one baking soda and vinegar. Cover each glass with one bowl making sure to cover the second glass as fast as possible in order not to lose the CO2 of the reaction. Now you have two systems to compare: the one reproducing the current atmosphere, with normal air, and the one which might be the future atmosphere. 
  3. Next, you have to place a lamp (our sun) above each bowl in order to heat them. After a few minutes you have to read the value indicated on the thermometers. 

Conclusion:
The overheating is real and is caused by the greenhouse effect. combined with  human activity, that produces a huge amount of CO2 so fast that Earth’s ecosystem can’t absorb it with its usual pace.

EXPERIMENT 2 - SEA LEVEL RISE

What you need:
  • 1 glass bottlewater
  • 1 clay ball
  • 1 straw
  • 1 glass bowl
  • 1 jug filled with hot water

Purpose:

The energy blocked by the greenhouse effect is absorbed by the air, the seas and the oceans. Capturing the energy in the atmosphere, the water becomes warmer and as a  consequence the sea level rises. In this experiment the water of the sea is reproduced by the water in a bottle. The straw has to fix the initial level of the water: it is inserted so that the lower part coincides with the surface of the liquid. When you put the hot water in the bowl, the bottle and the water inside it heat up. Now the question is: "What happens to the level of the sea? Does it become higher or lower?"

Let’s start:
  1. Fill the bottle with water
  2. Close the bottle with a little ball of clay and insert the straw in the middle
  3. Put the bottle in the bowl and pour the hot water little by little
  4. Notice how the water behave and describe the whole process step by step

Conclusions:
When the water gets warmer its volume increases and therefore it occupies more space. The water molecules expand, the strength keeping them together loses part of its power, therefore giving more motion to the molecules. The end result of increased molecular motion is that the object expands and takes up more space. On a macroscopic degree, the sea level becomes higher. Submerged towns and flooded pieces of land are a disastrous consequence  of this phenomenon. So far, the most struck countries have been the Fiji Islands, the protagonists of COY13 and COP 23, and Bangladesh, two poor countries with a high number of inhabitants. Thousands of people are moving away from these places and this migration has terrible consequences: poverty, criminality, terrorism and war. Climate change does not only create environmental problems, it is also the cause of contrasts among people.

EXPERIMENT 3 - SEAWATER ACIDIFICATION 

What you need:
  • 1  bottle of water
  • 1 empty bottle
  • 1 clay ball
  • 1 thin tube
  • 1 glass of water
  • baking soda
  • vinegar
  • 1 glass of vinegar
  • 1 glass of water
  • 1 glass of acidity thermometer solution (water in which you have boiled a red cabbage for a couple of minutes)

Purpose:
The carbon dioxide absorbed by the oceans provokes water acidification and as a consequence its pH decreases. The purpose of the experiment is to verify if this statement is true.

Let’s start:
First of all, you must acidificate the water inside the bottle:
  1. Pour vinegar and add baking soda in the empty bottle to produce CO" through their reaction
  2. Immediately close the bottle with the clay ball and stick the tube inside of it, so that it remains outside for one third
  3. Insert the outside part of the tube in the bottle filled with water
  4. Wait a few minutes so that the CO2 mixes with the water and acidifies it

Has the water absorbed the CO2? We can test it rough the next steps:
  1. Pour some acidity thermometer solution  inside the vinegar glass: the liquid will become fuchsia. This new solution helps us compare the colour with the next one.
  2. Pour the water mixed with CO2 from the bottle to the empty glass and add some acidity thermometer solution. The liquid will become of a bright pink colour.

Conclusions:
Seawater acidification causes many problems to ecosystems: many organisms which are a fundamental source of food for animals will die. The main victims are those animals with a calcium-carbonate shell:  acidity causes a chemical reaction which breaks the ties within the shell. As a result, sensitive species will love their shell and die out. Marine biodiversity will therefore suffer from severe problems.

EXPERIMENT 4 - CONSEQUENCES OF ACIDIFICATION

What you need:
  • 1 egg
  • 1 glass of vinegar

Purpose:
This experiment reproduces sea animals’ shell corrosion due to acidification.

Let’s start:
  1. Leave the egg in the glass for a few hours
  2. Observe the consequences

Conclusion:
The egg shell is composed of calcium carbonate, which breaks down at a molecular level as an effect of acidification. The same thing happens to sea creatures’ shells, such as the one of hermit crabs and clams.

Did you try these experiments at home? Let us know by posting pictures on our Instagram (@stampagiovanile) and Facebook (@youthpressagency) pages

by Maria Luisa Mazzoni



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