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Paleontological Research Institution


6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Type

  • Videos, 7 minutes, 9 seconds, CC, Subtitles

Regional Focus



YouTube Video

Greenhouse in a Beaker

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  • This video by the Paleontological Research Institution describes the concept of the greenhouse effect in an actual greenhouse and uses a simple experiment to demonstrate how carbon dioxide can absorb infrared radiation, leading to temperature increases in a system. 
  • The experiment involves bubbling carbon dioxide from antacid tablets into a glass jar and measuring the temperature change over time as a heat lamp shines on it and a control jar. 
Teaching Tips


  • The narrator describes all components of the experiment, easily allowing a teacher to replicate this same set-up in their classroom.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should be familiar with the concept that Earth's atmosphere allows some radiation to pass through and other types are absorbed resulting in temperature changes.
  • Students should be familiar with terms like visible light, infrared radiation, and wavelength.


  • Consider having students draw a diagram of the experimental set up with an explanation of how the experiment demonstrates the greenhouse effect. 
  • To dive deeper into the science of the greenhouse effect and climate change, high school students may benefit from this interactive, online lesson: Heating it Up: The Chemistry of the Greenhouse Effect.
Scientist Notes
This resource exemplifies the scientific method by conducting an empirical, reproducible experiment. Atmospheric carbon dioxide has risen unnaturally since the onset of the Industrial Revolution and is the leading cause of climate change. This experiment demonstrates how the greenhouse effect works in the atmosphere. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Science
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • HS-ESS2-4. Use a model to describe how variations in the flow of energy into and out of Earth’s systems result in changes in climate.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-5. Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.
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