Why Do Some Molecules Absorb Infrared Energy?

In this short, hands-on activity, students build simple molecular models of 4 atmospheric gases (O2, N2, C02, and methane), compare their resonant frequencies, and make the connection between resonant frequency and the gas's ability to absorb infrared radiation.

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Teaching Tips

Teaching Tips

Educator should definitely include the reading in the surrounding chapter (chapter 2 of the GSS curriculum on Climate Change [link http://www.globalsystemsscience.org/studentbooks/cc/ch2] about what resonant frequency has to do with why greenhouses gases are able to absorb infrared light.

This animation [link http://scied.ucar.edu/molecular-vibration-modes] provides a visual representation of molecular resonance and would be useful to use as a reference/resource in this activity .

Free teacher guide with downloadable files and additional activities is available upon request at: [link http://www.globalsystemsscience.org/teacherguides].

Literacy and Resources

Climate Literacy: