Climate Change / Global Warming Science Demonstrations, Activities and Labs

Avoiding Flawed, Problem Science Demonstrations -- Greenhouse Effect in a Bottle; Heating Carbon Dioxide vs. Air;
Example of Flawed Demos: "Greenhouse Effect in the Classroom"
aka: "Climate change in a shoebox: Right result, wrong physics"
Hands-on Science Avoiding Flawed Demos > Greenhouse Effect > Problem Examples > Lueddecke

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Avoiding Flawed

Greenhouse Effect

Faulty Demos
Errors, Misconceptions
Testing, Lab Results
Scientifically Strong

Demonstrations are
now widely promoted
across the United States
in science aquariums
and teacher workshops
claiming dramatic results.
With the aim to
"dispel myths and

This web portal
is a resource within
America's online library
for Education &
Research in Science,
Technology, Engineering,

Index and Introduction (Special section's home page)
Overview of Flawed Demo Examples
Menu of the individual examples: Analysis and testing of flawed demo designs
Being most heavily promoted: Need -- National Energy Education Development     Keystone Center
Prominent demos:     CLEAN     Bill Nye & Al Gore    On BBC TV    AMNH -- American Museum of Natural History
Many examples currently on-line:    Spin on That   PBS's Nova Capturing Carbon    Pico Tech     CIRES        
Flawed demos of this variety have been carefully reviewed, tested and analyzed by other reputable scientists: Lueddecke
Common errors with these relatively rare variations: Using other heat trapping (greenhouse) gases    Sunlight as the energy source variations

When you see a demonstration still being promoted of a similar design as this:
Greenhouse Effect in the Classroom:
A Project and Laboratory Based Curriculum

by Susann B. Lueddecke, Nicholas Pinter, Scott A. McManus
Other on-line reference locations: Education Resources Information Center (ERIC). Course Hero (must register to view)
Very well documented description of lab set-up and results of experiments.
Originally appearing in: Journal of Geoscience Education, v49 n3 p274-79 May 2001
Discussion: "Why is the standard classroom experiment demonstrating the GHG effect of CO2 wrong?"

Ask yourself: "Why would energy industry groups do that?"... when engineering advisors know this science well:
Climate change in a shoebox: Right result, wrong physics
Published May 2010 in American Journal of Physics, American Association of Physics Teachers
Paul Wagoner -- TERC. Chunhua Liu & and R. G. Tobin -- Tufts University

Available on-line on several servers:
[pdf]    American Journal of Physics Natural Science    Terc news announcement

Abstract of the Wagoner, Liu and Tobin paper
Classroom experiments that purport to demonstrate the role of carbon dioxide’s far-infrared absorption in global climate change are more subtle than is
commonly appreciated. We show, using both experimental results and theoretical analysis, that one such experiment demonstrates an entirely
different phenomenon: The greater density of carbon dioxide compared to air reduces heat transfer by suppressing convective mixing with the ambient air.
Other related experiments are subject to similar concerns. Argon, which has a density close to that of carbon dioxide but no infrared absorption, provides a
valuable experimental control for separating radiative from convective effects. A simple analytical model for estimating the magnitude of the radiative
greenhouse effect is presented, and the effect is shown to be very small for most tabletop experiments.

Thank you, Scott Mandia, for bringing this essential paper to the attention of the Mobile Climate Science Labs,
immediately after we contacted the Climate Science Rapid Response Team for assistance on this topic.

Notes on both papers and their authors:
Neither paper challenges basic global warming, climate change or greenhouse gas theory.
The issue being discussed is whether the demo actually (and accurately) does what it claimed.

Unlike several other flawed demos, the Lueddecke version does not have a major sponsor or promotional campaign backing it.
Yet, the original paper is still being widely accessed as a description of how to do a global warming science demo.
By contrast, the Wagoner, Liu & Tobin paper is currently not well known and has been difficult to find.
We believe the Wagoner, Liu and Tobin paper is essential reading
for anyone involved in the design, development and promotion of science demonstrations related to "the greenhouse effect."

Even after the publication of Wagoner, Liu and Tobin's paper, demos are being widely promoted which
make the same basic errors they address. NEED's demo, for example.

The Lueddecke, Pinter, and McManus paper represents a noble and scientific effort to produce great hands-on science.
They addressed a very important need: the world truly must have quality science demonstrations on climate change.
Science and science education is constantly looking to make improvements and correct errors.The peer review process is essential.
This process can be quite strenuous and even quite painful to go through.

Science educators, we feel, should continue to applaud both teams:

Wagoner, Liu & Tobin
Lueddecke, Pinter, and McManus

Together with them, all of us can represent well the "right result" and the right physics in outstanding hands-on science.

Introduction and Index
>>  Faulty demonstrations being heavily promoted -- over a dozen examples <<
Errors and misconceptions commonly found in flawed demonstrations
Testing the demos, mistakes revealed -- lab & field results from scientists and hundreds of students & teachers

Scientifically strong demonstrations engaging millions. Powerful, fun, dramatic, unforgettable.
Resources & Further Background
Encouraging rebuttal: welcoming sponsor-promoters to defend if demos are scientifically valid.
Testing the evidence for everyone to see, experience for themselves -- that's what has made science demonstrations so very powerful in history

Acknowledgements, Thank You's            Contact

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