What's Hiding in the Air?: Acid Rain Activity

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As a model of acid rain, learners water plants with three different solutions: water only, vinegar only, vinegar-water mixture. After a period of days or weeks, learners see the effect acid has on plants and their growth. Activity has references and links to other activities to make this part of a larger lesson or unit.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 4 weeks

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per group of students)

  • bean plants (approximately the same size, planted in separate containers)
  • Vinegar
  • Tap water
  • Vinegar-water mixture in 1 to 3 ratio
  • Masking tape
  • pH paper or indicator
  • Magnifying glasses
  • 1/8 cup measuring cup
  • 1/4 cup measuring cup


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
      • Atmosphere
  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Civil Engineering
      • Environmental Engineering
  • Life Sciences
    • Ecology
      • Human Impact
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Acids and Bases
      • Solutions
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations

Informal Categories

  • Gardening


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • 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 ; Perez, Sharon ; Yowell, Janet ; Mach, Natalie ; Schaefer Zarske, Malinda ; Carlson, Denise

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