Ocean Acidification for Educators

The chart below includes selected curriculum on ocean acidification deemed relevant in Alaska. We are working on additional curriculum that highlights Alaska’s unique water chemistry and OA drivers. If you would like to join the network’s working group on K-12 education, email dugan@aoos.org. We welcome both teachers and scientists.

NEW: An ocean acidification teaching kit with hands-on experiments for Alaska middle school and high school classrooms. The kits are available for check-out. Learn about the kit.

Topic/Conceptual Understanding Grade Level Type of Resource Description






Intro to OA as a problem related to increased CO2 levels in the atmosphere

Various Narrated PPT and video Ocean Acidification Science Presentation (Dr. Gledhill)
Video OA Introduction and demonstrations (Dr. Jane Lubchenko)
Video Ocean Acidification: The Other Carbon Dioxide Problem
The Acid Test
Article with image of chemical equation “Ocean acidification”
Articles “Ocean Acidification – From Ecological Impacts to Policy Opportunities”
Article “The Dangers of Ocean Acidification” (Scientific American)
Article Oceans of Acid: How Fossil Fuels Could Destroy Marine Ecosystems” (WGBH Nova) with Teacher Guide/Student Comprehension Questions
The pH scale and how pH is measured Grades 9-12 Lesson Plan  The Power of pH (Monterey Bay Aquarium)


CO2 increases the acidity of water: a small change in pH can have a big effect on conditions of survival for marine organisms

Grades 8-12 Simple demos video intro Introduction to demos for educators
PowerPoint for students to introduce demos Can be downloaded from Washington Sea Grant website
Demo for teachers A Tale of Two Acids video + demo protocol (WA Sea Grant)
Demo for teachers Hold Your Breath video  + demo protocol (WA Sea Grant)
Demo for teachers Crossing Thresholds video + demo protocol (WA Sea Grant)
The pH of sea water

Relationship of pH of sea water to (soluble) CO2

Relationship of alkalinity and pH of sea water to soluble CO2 and tolerance range of most organisms that live in the salt water

High school Lab Is sea water more like lemons or bleach? (OCB Lab Kit)
Lab OA – Wet Lab (From Mark VanArsdale, Anchorage School District)
Lab  OA in a Cup (OCB Lab Kit)
Temperature affects the rate of chemical reactions and the solubility of CO2 in water; colder waters absorb and retain higher concentrations of CO2 Middle School Lab + video Can Gases Dissolve in Water? (American Chemical Society)






Impacts of OA on calcifying marine species

Many marine animals build shells through a process of precipitation of calcium carbonate. The chemical process of shell-building  competes with the process of formation of carbonic acid in seawater.


Grades 8-12 Image (includes chemical equation)  How Will Changes in Ocean Chemistry Affect Marine Life? 
Grades 8-12 Video demo OA Intro and demonstrations (Dr. Jane Lubchenko)
Grades 4-8



Demo for teachers Shells on Acid video + demo protocol  (WA Sea Grant)
Lab Experiment I’m Melting! Seashells in Acid (OCB Lab Kit)
Experiment Acidification Experiment: Impact of Carbonated Water on Mussel and Oyster Shells (NOAA Sanctuaries)
Lab Experiment Demonstrating the effects of OA on marine organisms (grades 6-9)
Grades 8-12 Video Ocean Acidification: The Other Carbon Dioxide Problem (impacts to pteropods highlighted)
Video Acid Oceans (impacts and research on sea urchins highlighted)
Video animation Pteropod shell dissolving interactive
Middle school Lab + video Forming a Precipitate (ACS) (Foundational concept)


Some shell-building marine animals in Alaska ocean waters are not adapted to grow well in a more acidic ocean. They grow more slowly or may not reproduce as successfully. Fewer young animals may survive to adulthood. Other shell-building animals have adaptations that protect them from the effects of higher levels of ocean acidification.

OA can have negative effects on animals that people eat and on the industries that harvest shellfish.

Grades 6 and up Poster Impacts of OA on Alaska Fish and Shellfish (Alaska OA Network)
Interactive tool and virtual lab Virtual Urchin Part 1. An interactive tool with overview of how CO2 in the air and pH in the ocean are connected and can affect the cycle of marine life.
Part 2. Enter a virtual lab bench set up experiments. Students go through all the steps.
Article An Upwelling Crisis: Ocean Acidification (effects on oysters)


People can use science to monitor changes in ocean acidification

Article A more acidic Arctic? NOAA deploys first buoy in region to monitor levels of CO2 absorbed by ocean.
Article + data

Article + data

Article + data

Gulf of Alaska OA Mooring – GAKOA
Northern Gulf of Alaska OA Mooring – Kodiak OA
Southeastern Bering Sea OA Mooring  – M2 OA
People can use science to design experiments to observe the effects of increased ocean acidification on different species at different life stages. Articles Gulf of Alaska OA Research Projects NOAA Ocean Acidification Program)
People can modify their activities to avoid negative impacts of ocean acidification. Article How Washington Transformed Its Dying Oyster Industry Into A Climate Success Story
People can use technology to reduce the effects of OA. Lab Oceanic Absorption- Oceanic Sequestration (Keystone Science School)
People can use technology to reduce the effects of OA. Lab Oceanic Absorption- Oceanic Sequestration (Keystone Science School)
Linkage of human activities to OA

Reversing or slowing the trend of increasing ocean acidification will require reducing human-caused carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

Animation OA Animation (Hawaii)
Problem-solving Activity International Student Carbon Footprint Challenge
Other concepts:
Concept of parts per million (ppm) to explain that things might be present in the environment even though they are not visible.
Lesson Plan Parts per Million (serial dilution of food coloring)
Regulation of ocean pH Grades 6-8 Lesson plan Exploring the complexity of ocean acidification

Additional Resources:

“Ask a Scientist” series – The Alaska OA Network launched a new video series where scientists answer a question about ocean acidification in 5 minutes or less. To kick off, we are drawing from the many excellent questions people submitted during a recent statewide survey on OA.


NOAA’s Ocean Acidification Program curriculum collection – A searchable collection of links to existing lesson plans, units, and supplemental materials on ocean acidification. Filter by category, activity type, OA principle, key word, or grade level to see a brief overview and link to comprehensive information.

SOARCE webinar series – (Sharing Ocean Acidification Resources for Communicators and Educators) is a webinar series that shares education and communication tools to promote an integrated and effective ocean acidification education community.

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