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Atoms and Molecules


11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Chemistry


90 minutes

Regional Focus



Google Docs, Google Slides


This lesson plan is licensed under Creative Commons.

Creative Commons License

The Ozone Layer

Created By Teacher:
Last Updated:
Apr 18, 2024
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In this lesson, students discover the chemistry behind the ozone layer’s depletion and recovery, then apply their learning to advocate for climate action.

Step 1 - Inquire: Students investigate the properties of ozone and oxygen to understand how the ozone layer protects life on Earth.

Step 2 - Investigate: Students learn about the Chapman cycle and complete a jigsaw activity about the causes of ozone depletion.

Step 3 - Inspire: Students create a social media post about a climate issue that is important to them, inspired by the success of the Montreal Protocol.

Accompanying Teaching Materials
Teaching Tips


  • This lesson can be integrated into a unit on thermochemistry.

  • The lesson can be used in an IB Chemistry class.

    • This addresses applications and skills in Topic 5.3 (SL & HL) of the old syllabus (last assessed 2024).

    • This addresses linking questions in Structure 2.2.11 and Reactivity 3.3.2 of the new syllabus (first assessed 2025).

  • This lesson can be used in an AP Environmental Science course to address Topics 9.1 and 9.2. 

  • Students apply their knowledge of bonding, atomic structure, and thermochemistry to examine a real-world problem.

  • Students learn about an environmental success story.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students need access to computers to complete the Jigsaw Activity in the Investigate section and to do research and create their social media post in the Inspire section.

  • Students should be familiar with algebra skills. They should be able to plug into an equation and then solve for the missing variable.

  • Students should have prior knowledge of bonding: 

    • Lewis dot structures

    • Resonance

    • Bond length and strength in covalent compounds

  • Students should have prior knowledge of the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS):

    • Shorter wavelengths of light have more energy than longer wavelengths.

    • Shorter wavelengths of light have higher frequencies than longer wavelengths.

    • Ultraviolet (UV) light has wavelengths between 10 and 400 nm. Its energy is too high to be seen with the naked eye.

  • Students should have some prior knowledge of thermochemistry:

    • Bond making is exothermic.

    • Bond breaking is endothermic.

    • Bond enthalpies are defined as the kJ of energy required to break one mole of gaseous covalent bonds, averaged over similar molecules.


  • For an extension on how the temperatures in different parts of the atmosphere affect the ozone layer, students can read this article and engage in further research.

  • Groupings for the Jigsaw Activity can be mixed-level in order to ensure students have support with understanding their assigned reading, or different jigsaw options can be assigned to different groups based on ability.

    • Group A reads a background article written for students, which most high school students should be able to read and understand

    • Group B listens to a podcast. This option is ideal for students who struggle with reading in English.

    • Group C reads a scientific journal article, which requires a higher reading level to read and understand.

  • The social media post could be created alone or in groups and tailored for students to share in different ways. For example, students could share their posts internally (Google Classroom, Schoology, etc.) if there are restrictions on social media use at school.

Scientist Notes

This thorough lesson gives students the opportunity to study the ozone layer's composition, chemical processes, physical characteristics, and significance for shielding people from dangerous UV rays. Additionally, students will study how ozone is destroyed, how the Montreal Protocol was used to manage the hole in the ozone layer, and how to use the model to address the present global climate crisis. After extensive fact-checking, the lesson passed our scientific credibility process and is recommended for teaching.


Primary Standards

  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • PS1: Matter and its Interactions
      • HS-PS1-1 Use the periodic table as a model to predict the relative properties of elements based on the patterns of electrons in the outermost energy level of atoms.
      • HS-PS1-4 Develop a model to illustrate that the release or absorption of energy from a chemical reaction system depends upon the changes in total bond energy.

Supporting Standards

  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to important distinctions the author makes and to any gaps or inconsistencies in the account.
  • Common Core Math Standards (CCSS.MATH)
    • Number & Quantity: Quantities (9-12)
      • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.HSN.Q.A.1 Use units as a way to understand problems and to guide the solution of multi-step problems; choose and interpret units consistently in formulas; choose and interpret the scale and the origin in graphs and data displays.
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  • The Ozone layer is such an important topic, so I'm glad to see there's a lesson for it! 😊😊
    6 months ago