Search for Resources

The Buffer Zone: Acid-Base Chemistry in the World's Oceans

Secondary

Description

This resource features an experiential learning approach that examines the effects of global warming on marine environments. Students apply introductory acid-base theory (including conjugate acids/bases and buffers) in an experiment to simulate ocean acidification resulting from the absorption of atmospheric carbon dioxide.  They then discuss the implications of their findings. As a culminating activity, students read a scientific article describing the toll of global warming on coral reefs and reflect on the scientific processes used to gather information on the impacts of climate change on this habitat.

General Assessment

Strengths

  • Gives students a chance to practice real science and link it to an important, current issue
  • Science focus provides opportunity to practice skills associated with the methodical approach
  • Resource is interesting, and up-to-date
  • Provides opportunities for experiential "hands-on" learning
  • Good background information for teachers
  • Objectives for each part of the lesson are clearly stated
  • Teacher notes and helpful hints sections are very useful
  • The instructions for the lab procedures are very student-friendly
  • Links for related information are provided
  • Assessment questions and suggested answers are given
  • Student background information on the chemistry behind the ocean water's natural buffering system is well presented
  • EHP reading is accompanied by detailed pictures and visuals which add clarification and enhance understanding
  • The link to the "Coral Reef Web" is excellent

Weaknesses

  • No authentic action plan in included
  • No accommodations suggested for struggling learners
  • Reading level for the EHP reading may be too challenging for some students
  • Students need explicit opportunities to clarify and express values
  • There are no rubrics provided for assessment

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource will provide an effective tool for bringing real-world relevance to chemistry lessons involving acid-base reactions, pH, and buffer systems.  It is especially appropriate for use in a high school classroom studying the ways that global warming is affecting ocean ecosystems and the consequences of changing PH levels for marine habitats.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

  • Step 1Select a province
  • Alberta
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Biological Diversity
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 10-4( Knowledge and Employability Science): Investigating Matter and Energy in Living Systems
        • Science 14: Investigating Matter and Energy in Living Systems
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemistry 20: Matter as Solutions, Acids and Bases
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemistry 30: Chemical Equilibrium Focusing on Acid-Base Systems
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 30: Chemistry and the Environment
  • British Columbia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Life Science: Sustainability of Ecosystems
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemistry 11: Solution Chemistry
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Processes of Science
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Applications of Acid-Base Reactions
        • Nature of Acids and Bases
  • Manitoba
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Senior 2 Science: Chemistry in Action
        • Senior 2 Science: Dynamics of Ecosystems
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Solutions
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemistry 40S:Acids and Bases
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Interdisciplinary Topics in Science 40S: Science, Technology, Society and the Environment
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Citizenship and Sustainability: Area of Inquiry: Environment
        • Global Issues
  • New Brunswick
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemical Reactions
        • Sustainability of Ecosystems
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Acids and Bases
        • Chemistry 121 /122
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 120: An Overview of Environmental Science
        • Environmental Science 120: Investigating Environmental Issues
  • Newfoundland & Labrador
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 1206: Chemical Reactions
        • Science 1206: Sustainability of Ecosystems
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Biology 2201: Interactions among Living Things
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 2200: Ecosytems
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemistry 3202: Acids and Bases
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 3205: The Atmosphere and the Environment
        • Environmental Science 3205: Water Use & the Environment
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • General Science 3200 : Chemical Reactions
  • Northwest Territories
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Biological Diversity
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemistry 20: Matter as Solutions, Acids and Bases
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemistry 30: Chemical Equilibrium Focusing on Acid-Base Systems
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 30: Chemistry and the Environment
  • Nova Scotia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 10: Sustainability of Ecosystems
        • Science 10:Chemical Reactions
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Biology 11: Interactions among Living Things
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Oceans 11: Coastal Zones
        • Oceans 11: Fisheries
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemistry 12: Acids and Bases
  • Nunavut
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Biological Diversity
        • Chemistry and the Environment
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 10-4( Knowledge and Employability Science): Investigating Matter and Energy in Living Systems
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Matter as Solutions, Acids and Bases
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemical Equilibrium Focusing on Acid-Base Systems
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 30: Chemistry and the Environment
  • Ontario
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science (Academic):Biology: Sustainable Ecosystems
        • Science (Applied): Biology: Sustainable Ecosystems and Human Activity
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science (Academic):Chemistry: Chemical Reactions
        • Science (Applied)::Chemistry: Chemical Reactions and Their Practical Applications
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Biology 11(Univer.Prep.) Diversity of Living Things
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Solutions and Solubility
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science (Univ/College Prep.) Scientific Solutions to Contemporary Environmental Challenges
        • Environmental Science (Workplace Prep.) Human Health and the Environment
        • Environmental Science (Workplace Prep.) Human Impact on the Environment
        • Environmental Science (Workplace Prep.) Natural Resource Science and Management
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • (College Prep.) Chemistry in the Environment
  • Prince Edward Island
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 421A: Chemical Reactions
        • Science 421A: Sustainability of Ecosystems
        • Science 431A: Ecosystems
        • Sciene 431A: Chemical Reactions
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemistry 621: Acids and Bases
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 621A: Environmental Challenges and Successes
  • Quebec
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemical Equilibrium
  • Saskatchewan
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 10: Chemical Reactions
        • Science 10: Climate and Ecosystem Dynamics
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemistry 30: Acid-Base Equilibria
  • Yukon Territory
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Life Science: Sustainability of Ecosystems
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Processes of Science
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Acids, bases and salts
        • Applications of Acid-Base Reactions

Themes Addressed

  • Air, Atmosphere & Climate (2)

    • Air Pollution
    • Weather
  • Ecosystems (2)

    • Appreciating the Natural World
    • Habitat Loss
  • Water (1)

    • Marine Environments

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Bias Minimization Good

Students gather information through guided inquiry and relate their findings to real life situations. They make their own conclusions on how carbons dioxide levels affect pH, by stressing the natural buffering system and the consequences this may have on human health.

Bias Minimization: Presents as many different points of view as necessary to fairly address the issue(s).
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Satisfactory

The resource links global warming, and green house gas production with changing ocean water chemistry. This brings about environmental consequences which impact our own food supply safety, and health.  Clear opportunities exist for teachers to introduce meaningful discussions of the social and economic consequences of reef degradation.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

The resource effectively addresses multiple dimensions of problems and solutions. These should include the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

Respects Complexity Satisfactory

Although not explicitly examining all dimensions of the issue, it promotes discussion and action through the hands-on learning activity.

Respects Complexity: The complexity of problems is respected. A systems-thinking approach is encouraged.
Action Experience Poor/Not considered

Poor- there is no action activity included in the resource

Action Experience: Provides opportunities for authentic action experiences in which students can work to make positive change in their communities.
  • Poor = action activities poorly developed
  • Satisfactory = action opportunities are extensions instead of being integral to the main part of the activity
Action Skills Satisfactory

Students learn to work cooperatively and collaborate on results. The scientific method emphasizes precision and accuracy.

Action Skills: Explicitly teaches the skills needed for students to take effective action (e.g. letter-writing, consensus-building, etc.).
Empathy & Respect for Humans Satisfactory
Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Good

Although it does not have an out-of-door experience, it does promote an appreciation of the oceans and the need to protect them.

Personal Affinity with Earth: Actively encourages a personal affinity with non-humans and with Earth. For example, this may involve practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors.
Locally-Focused Satisfactory

After reading the EHP article, students will see how ocean ecosystems are linked to local  food chains as well as the value coral reefs have in enhancing medicinal,and spiritual health.

Locally-Focused: Encourages learning that is locally-focused/made concrete in some way and is relevant to the lives of the learners.
Past, Present & Future Good

The use of  scientific inquiry allows students to see the effects of past practices and to highlight the current situation. The future would be seen as positive if students use the results of the inquiry as a springboard to action.

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good

Students are able to discover some of the answers on their own through the guided inquiry approach taken.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Learning Satisfactory

This is primarily a science resource, with an emphasis on acid-base and environmental chemistry. There are some opportunities for addressing outcomes in geography.

Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Learning: Multidisciplinary= addresses a number of different subjects Interdisciplinary= integrated approach that blurs subject lines Good: The resource provides opportunities for learning in a number of traditional 'subject' areas (eg. Language Arts, Science, Math, Art, etc.). Very Good: The resource takes an integrated approach to teaching that blurs the lines between subject boundaries.
Discovery Learning Good
Discovery Learning:

Learning activities are constructed so that students discover and build knowledge for themselves and develop largely on their own an understanding of concepts, principles and relationships. They often do this by wrestling with questions, and/or solving problems by exploring their environment, and/or physically manipulating objects and/or performing experiments.

  • Satisfactory = Students are provided with intriguing questions, materials to use & some direction on how to find answers. The learning involves unique experience & provides some opportunity for an 'ah-hah' event
  • Good = Students are provided with intriguing questions, materials to use, & make their own decisions on how to find answers. The learning involves unique experience & provides definite opportunity for an 'ah-hah' event.
  • Very Good = Students choose what questions to investigate as well as the materials/strategies to use to answer them.
Values Clarification Satisfactory
Values Clarification: Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.
  • Poor = Students are not explicitly given an opportunity to clarify their own values.
  • Satisfactory = Students are given a formal opportunity to clarify their own values. The range of perspectives in the resource is limited, therefore, students do not have an appropriate amount of information to clarify their own values.
Differentiated Instruction Satisfactory

Activities do teach to both the cognitive and affective domains. Reading levels in the EHP introductory article will be challenging for some students. There are no accommodations suggested for students with learning difficulties, but appropriate placement of students in lab groups should help in addressing this.

Differentiated Instruction: Activities address a range of learning styles/different intelligences. They teach to both cognitive and affective domains. Accommodations are suggested for people with learning difficulties.
Experiential Learning Good

Hands-on, minds-on learning are prominent.

Experiential Learning: Direct, authentic experiences are used.
  • Satisfactory = simulation
  • Good = authentic experience
  • Very Good = authentic experience related to the primary goal of the lesson
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory
Cooperative Learning: Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.
  • Satisfactory = students work in groups
  • Good = cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good = cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Satisfactory

Some assessment tools are provided, but there are no suggested rubrics for evaluating student work.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory
Peer Teaching: Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.
  • Satisfactory = incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good = an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Good
Case Studies: Relevant case studies are used. Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events in real situations that can be used to examine concepts in an authentic context.
Locus of Control Satisfactory
Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.