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In this demonstration activity, students make structural models of gas molecules using pipe cleaners and polystyrene balls and test their molecules for their resonant frequency. Students shake the models, count vibrations, and compare the resonance frequencies of different gases. Students learn that photons of infrared energy vibrate at the right frequency to transfer their energy to carbon dioxide and methane, which in turn causes those molecules to vibrate, which is experienced in the real world as heat. The teacher's guide includes illustrative videos for this resource. This activity is supported by a textbook chapter, What's So Special about CO²?, part of the unit, Climate Change, in Global Systems Science (GSS), an interdisciplinary course for high school students that emphasizes how scientists from a wide variety of fields work together to understand significant problems of global impact.
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