Climate change is at the forefront of environmental concerns and it often revolves around atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration and its effect on average surface temperature. However, carbon dioxide concentration is not only rising in the atmosphere but in the ocean as well. The source of this dissolved carbon dioxide is the rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels we hear so much about, as carbon dioxide is soluble in water.
In these two design challenges, students will design and construct their own thermos/storage device using craft materials and measure its effectiveness to insulate a liquid with a PocketLab temperature probe. These activities are aligned with two middle school NGSS standards and are a great open-ended, hands-on project for students to engage their critical thinking and engineering skills.
It is almost instinctive when you first get the PocketLab Air to breathe directly on it just to see what happens. As seen below, of the PocketLab Air's seven sensors, five of them detect changes from a direct human breath. These parameters are carbon dioxide, particulate matter, temperature, humidity, and pressure. The most interesting of these is the sharp rise in carbon dioxide which, as the most important greenhouse gas, brings about strong connections to the topic of climate change.
Forest fires are a common natural disaster within western North America and pose a serious risk to many communities both nearby due to direct danger of the fire, as well as far away in the form of air pollution. Currently, in many places, some form of government employee will be in charge of looking out for forest fires and once identified, satellites and computer programs can be used to track its progression and predict where the fire will spread and where the smoke cloud will go. This allows us to evacuate individuals who may be in danger and minimize loss of life.
Brownian motion can be defined as the random motion of particles in a liquid or gas caused by the bombardment from molecules in the containing medium. Have you ever looked at dust particles in the sunlight shining through a window? They appear to move about randomly, even defying gravity. This is an example of Brownian motion in which the dust particles are bombarded on all sides by gas molecules in the air. Other examples of Brownian motion include the motion of grains of pollen on the surface of still water, the dif
In this experiment students will use PocketLab to collect data related to the cooling of a container of hot water as time goes on. Sir Isaac Newton modeled this process under the assumption that the rate at which heat moves from one object to another is proportional to the difference in temperature between the two objects, i.e., the cooling rate = -k*TempDiff. In the case of this experiment, the two objects are water and air. Newton showed that TempDiff = To * exp(-kt), where TempDiff is the temperature difference at time t and To is the temperature difference at time zero.
With a pressure sensor built into PocketLab, there must surely be some way to investigate Boyle's Law. This law states that pressure and volume of an ideal gas are inversely proportional to one another provided that the temperature and amount of gas are kept constant within a closed system. What is needed is a closed system that is large enough to hold PocketLab in a way that pressure can be sensed while changing the volume of the enclosed gas (in our case, air).
Gay-Lussac's Law states that when the volume of a container of gas is held constant, while the temperature of the gas is increased, then the pressure of the gas will also increase. In other words, pressure is directly proportional to the absolute temperature for a given mass of gas at constant volume. Although this is, strictly speaking, true only for an ideal gas, most gases that surround us behave much like an ideal gas. Even ordinary air, which is a mixture of gases, can behave like an ideal gas.
Investigating Pressure and Volume with a Syringe
Explore air pressure and how it works. In a sealed syringe, as the plunger moves back and forth, the volume of air in the syringe changes. With a large enough syringe, a PocketLab can be placed inside to measure the change in pressure as the volume changes.