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Earth Day 2009

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Earth Day falls on Wednesday, April 22, 2009: It's a great time to learn about our planet and how to take care of it!

Learning About Acid Rain

Before beginning this experiment, give children background information about acid rain. Explain that acid rain is just rain that has become polluted. The pollution comes from cars, power stations, homes, and factories that burn oil and coal. Sulfur and nitrogen compounds from the oil and coal turn to acids when they mix with air and water vapors. Acid rain affects trees, lakes, and crops. It also corrodes buildings, monuments, and statues contain calcium carbonate. This experiment uses antacid tablets or eggshells - both of which contain calcium carbonate - to represent a building or statue, and vinegar to represent sulfuric and nitric acids.

Equipment: cup, antacid tablet or eggshell, tablespoon measure, and vinegar

Procedure: Place the antacid tablet or eggshell inside the cup. Add one tablespoon of vinegar.

Observations: Have kids describe what happened to the tablet or eggshell when vinegar to the tablet or eggshell when vinegar was poured over it. (The tablet or shell will break down and disintegrate.)

Discussion: What would happen if the materials were left in the sun for a day or two? In what way is vinegar like acid rain? What affects do you think acid rain has on marble statues? Do people contribute to the effects of acid rain? Follow up by asking kids to think of ways to reduce acid rain.

Variation: Repeat the exercise using chalk, chicken bones, or small pieces of marble instead of the antacid tablet or eggshell. How are the reactions similar? How are they different?


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