CAICE Chemistry and Climate Activity Kit

The CAICE Chemistry and Climate Activity Kit is designed to facilitate education and outreach in chemistry and climate science in informal learning environments (e.g. at home, in the classroom, and at STEM fairs).  These materials may be used individually or in series.  Together, they support student understanding of the radiative balance of the earth and anthropogenic influences on climate. The activity on surface albedo relates the brightness of a surface to its absorption of heat. Light scattering by particles affects the transmission of light and describes why the sky is blue and sunsets are red. As the Earth’s reflectively is largely attributed to clouds, the exploration of cloud formation logically follows. However, consideration of surfaces and clouds alone grossly underestimates the temperature of the earth, because it does not account for the heat trapping capabilities of greenhouse gases.  The molecular structure of greenhouse gases and how they trap heat is explored through a guided-inquiry using molecular models. Graphs provide a glimpse of historic and recent trends in greenhouse gas concentrations and the average temperature of the Earth. Oceans are affected by carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, and are becoming more acidic.  Explore acid base chemistry and dissolution of calcium carbonate with a red cabbage experiment. Whether used together or alone, these activities provide a way of sharing chemistry and climate science.


  1. Cloud Formation (a.k.a. “Cloud in a Bottle”) (age 5 and up)
  2. What makes a Greenhouse Gas? (age 10 and up)
  3. The Light Scattering Phenomenon (age 5 and up)
  4. Ocean Acidification (age 4 and up)
  5. Surface Albedo and Global Climate Change (age 5 and up)



Learning materials were prepared by University of Iowa researchers Olga Laskina, Holly Morris, Joshua Grandquist, Jonathon Trueblood, Thilina Jayarathne, Jennifer Schmidt, Miranda Neff, Richard Cochran, and Elizabeth A. Stone. We thank Haim Weizman and Kayla Busby of the University of California – San Diego for reviewing these materials. This project was supported by an ACS Climate Science Challenge Grant and the National Science Foundation under Grant No. CHE 1305427.  Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.