P898: Chemistry concepts and climate science context: Teaching and learning both through Visualizing the Chemistry of Climate Change (VC3Chem)
Global climate change is an important environmental challenge facing humanity, and many important underlying concepts of climate science rely on models built on a fundamental understanding of chemistry. Although this real-world context rarely is integrated into traditional chemistry courses for science majors, we demonstrate that connections to climate science and global climate change can be incorporated easily into undergraduate chemistry curricula and can improve learning of both chemistry and climate science concepts. The NSF-funded Visualizing the Chemistry of Climate Change (VC3Chem) project developed, piloted and will be releasing publicly a set of interactive web-based resources that specifically connect and teach four core general chemistry concepts through the rich context of climate science. The hands-on digital learning objects at www.vc3chem.com enable students to learn about isotopes and their relevance in determining historical temperature records; IR absorption by greenhouse gases; acid/base chemistry and the impacts of increasing atmospheric CO2 levels on the pH of and carbon speciation in oceans; and how thermochemistry and the combustion of fuels influence the earth’s radiation balance. The efficacy of the tools and the approach has been assessed through measuring changes in students’ understanding about both climate change and core chemistry concepts.