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3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Types

  • Activity - Classroom
  • Video, 3 minutes, 50 seconds, CC, Subtitles

Regional Focus


NASA Global Warming Demonstration

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  • This video demonstrates the heat capacity difference between air and water using a flame and balloons, which teachers in the classroom can recreate.
  • As the Earth grows warmer due to climate change, the oceans absorb much more heat than the atmosphere absorbs.
Teaching Tips


  • The video includes a great animation of the greenhouse effect.
  • It ends on a hopeful note with a couple of ideas for how individuals can help reduce the use of fossil fuels.

Additional Prerequisites

  • To recreate the demonstration in person, teachers will need balloons, a lighter, water, and safety goggles.
  • The video briefly explains the connections to climate change, but teachers should be prepared to discuss this further.


  • Teachers can use this demonstration as a phenomenon to anchor a lesson about heat capacity or climate change.
  • The simple video explanations and animations are geared toward younger students. To make this more advanced for older students, teachers can add instruction about the molecular side of heat capacity.
  • Teachers can follow this demonstration with exploration on sea mitigation strategies.
  • If you have students who are sensitive to loud noises, use whatever strategy (noise canceling headphones, watching only the video, etc.) works best to allow those students to comfortably experience the demonstration.
Scientist Notes
This classroom activity / demonstration from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology provides a visual representation of the greenhouse effect and how the oceans are absorbing heat-trapping gases from the atmosphere.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • 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.
      • 4-ESS3-1 Obtain and combine information to describe that energy and fuels are derived from natural resources and that their uses affect the environment.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.3.2 Determine the main ideas and supporting details of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
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