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Automotive Emissions and the Greenhouse Effect

Source Institutions

    Railroad Commission of Texas

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Automotive Emissions and the Greenhouse Effect

In this activity about global climate change, learners will conduct an experiment and collect data to compare the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in four different sources of gases. Learners will then determine the CO2 contribution from automobiles and brainstorm ways they can reduce their carbon footprint. This lesson guide includes background information about the greenhouse effect and handouts for learners. [Activity is publicly available through a web crawler capture on]

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per student

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per student)

  • 5 vials or test tubes
  • A graduated cylinder
  • A funnel straw
  • A marble-size piece of modeling clay
  • 4 different colored balloons
  • 4 twist-ties
  • A narrow-necked bottle (the neck should be narrow enough for a balloon to fit over it)
  • A dropping bottle of bromthymol blue indicator solution
  • A dropping bottle of dilute household ammonia (1 part ammonia to 50 parts distilled water)
  • 100 mL vinegar
  • 5 mL baking soda
  • Safety goggles for wear at all times


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Processes
      • Weather and Climate
    • Earth Structure
      • Atmosphere
  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Environmental Engineering
      • Transportation Engineering
    • Technology
      • Energy and Power
      • Transportation
  • Life Sciences
    • Ecology
      • Human Impact
  • Mathematics
    • Algebra
      • Equations and Inequalities
      • Variables and Expressions
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
    • Measurement
    • Number and Operations
    • Problem Solving
    • Reasoning and Proof
  • Physical Sciences
    • Energy
      • Energy and Power
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Reactions
    • States of Matter
      • Gases
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Elements and Periodic Table
  • The Nature of Science
    • Science and Society
      • Risks and Benefits
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Technology and the Environment

Informal Categories

  • Nature and Environment
  • Transportation


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Uses STEM to solve real-world problems
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Alternative Fuels Research and Education Division, Railroad Commission of Texas


  • All Rights Reserved, Railroad Commission of Texas, ©2007

Funding Sources:

  • Texas State Energy Conservation Office
  • U.S. Department of Energy


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