Battling for Oxygen

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Working in groups, learners model the continuous destruction and creation of ozone (O3) molecules, which occur in the ozone layer. Some learners act as ultraviolet (UV) light and break apart gumdrop and toothpick models of ozone molecules into oxygen molecules and atoms. Meanwhile, other learners assemble ozone molecules from the oxygen molecules and atoms. In a second round, learners model the situation when pollutants such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are present. In subsequent rounds, the amount of CFCs changes according to historical data, and learners can see what happens to the proportion of ozone and oxygen in the ozone layer over time. Resource contains vocabulary definitions and suggestions for assessment, extensions, and scaling for different levels of learners.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration, Model


Materials List (per group of students)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Processes
      • Weather and Climate
    • Earth Structure
      • Atmosphere
  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Civil Engineering
      • Environmental Engineering
  • Life Sciences
    • Ecology
      • Human Impact
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Bonding
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Atomic Structure
  • The Nature of Science
    • Science and Society
      • Public Policy


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Kolenbrander, Amy ; Yowell, Janet ; Mach, Natalie ; Schaefer Zarske, Malinda ; Carlson, Denise ; Rutkowski, Tom ; Stephens, Tyman

Source Collection

  • TeachEngineering


  • All rights reserved, Regents of the University of Colorado, 2004

Funding Sources:

  • Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE)
  • U.S. Department of Education
  • National Science Foundation, 0226322