Are humans causing ocean acidification?

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Lesson overview

A practical lesson where students work scientifically and develop their literacy skills by writing a conclusion using the ‘Point Evidence Explain’ technique from English. The context of the lesson is the work of Dr Helen Findlay who is investigating ocean acidification: ‘the other carbon problem’. This introduction to the carbon cycle and ocean acidification builds on students' prior knowledge of climate change and increased atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Learning outcomes

  • Understand the wider context and learning outcomes
  • Describe patterns
  • Use the ‘Point Evidence Explain’ technique
  • Explain the difference between correlation and cause
  • Demonstrate and reflect on learning

Lesson steps

  1. A Brief from Dr Helen Findlay (10 mins)
    Use the slides to set the context and share the learning outcomes.
  2. Weird correlations and P.E.E. (Point Evidence Explain) (15 mins)
    Highlight that correlation doesn’t mean cause using tylervigen.com/discover. Using slides, students learn how to write a conclusion with the ‘Point Evidence Explain’ technique.
  3. Practical work (10 mins)
    Students look for evidence that CO2 causes ocean acidification during the activity ‘Ocean acidification in a cup’.
  4. Causal link: mechanism for ocean acidification (10 mins)
    Using slides, students learn how increasing atmospheric CO2 is causing oceanic pH to decrease.
  5. Writing a conclusion (10 mins)
    Students demonstrate their learning by writing or improving a conclusion.
  6. Self-reflection (5 mins)
    Using slides, students consider how alternative ‘teachers’ may have delivered the lesson.
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