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PhET Interactive Simulations


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


Science, Chemistry, Physics, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Type

  • Interactive Media

Regional Focus


The Greenhouse Effect Interactive Simulation

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  • This interactive simulation demonstrates the effect greenhouse gases and clouds have on infrared radiation, photons, and global temperatures.
  • Students can engage with the simulation on three pages including the greenhouse effect, glass layers, and photon absorption.
Teaching Tips


  • It includes tips for teachers, teacher-submitted activities, and translations in nearly fifty languages. 
  • There are different adjustable settings including time period, greenhouse gas concentration, number of clouds, and simulation speed. 

Additional Prerequisites

  • The simulation can be accessed instantly, but in order to access the teaching tips and teacher-submitted activities, you must first create a free account with PhET Interactive Simulations. 
  • The "About" section provides topics that students should be familiar with before interacting with the simulation. 
  • You may need to download the Java version to access the full simulation.


Scientist Notes
This resource estimates CO2 levels during the Ice Age, in 1750, and at present. It shows how clouds, greenhouse gases, and other parameters influence the energy budget and configuration in the climate system. This simulation is suitable for teaching.
  • 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.
    • PS1: Matter and its Interactions
      • HS-PS1-5 Apply scientific principles and evidence to provide an explanation about the effects of changing the temperature or concentration of the reacting particles on the rate at which a reaction occurs.
    • PS3: Energy
      • HS-PS3-4 Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence that the transfer of thermal energy when two components of different temperature are combined within a closed system results in a more uniform energy distribution among the components in the system (second law of thermodynamics).
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