-using this resource

Global warming

  -the facts

  -case study

  -hot map

  -CO calculator

  -pledge guest book


  -lesson activities

  -data analysis

  -data logging



  -links page



Two datalogging experiments:

Expt 1 Simulation of global warming  Expt 2 Comparing CO2 given out by different fuels

Note: These are presented as teacher demonstrations, so safety assumptions are implicit.
For student usage, safety concerns would need to be made clear.


Experiment 1

A simulation of global warming

Heat up a sample of carbon dioxide in a plastic bottle using a simple lamp. Compare the heating effect with ordinary air. The results can be analysed best when obtained with a data logger. This investigation could be extended  further to include water vapour or methane. Most science labs have a plentiful supply of methane from the gas taps for Bunsen burners.

Global warming experiment setup

The picture above and the data logging activity idea was obtained from the Dr Daq website. Dr Daq is a very inexpensive data logging solution designed for the school environment. Other experiment ideas for using data logging in the classroom can be found on the Dr Daq website. Click here

        Equipment Required

  • Data logger connected to a PC or a graphical calculator
  • Two temperature probes 
  • Two plastic pop (soda) bottles
  • Two clamp stands, bosses and clamps
  • Carbon dioxide (can be made from HCl on marble chips)
  • Two heat lamps or flexible spotlights (at least 60W)
  • Modelling clay ( e.g Plasticine TM)


Fill a plastic pop bottle with carbon dioxide. You could use hydrochloric acid on marble chips to generate the CO2. You might have a gas bottle supply, or could use a fizzy water making machine (e.g. Soda Stream TM).

Set up the apparatus as shown above.

Even over a small time period such as 6 minutes we were able to get a difference of 10 degrees in temperature between the two samples. 

View data as excel file

Experiment 2

Comparing the CO2 given out by different fuels

The following experiment idea and data were obtained from .

The investigation was designed to find out which fuel produces the most CO2. A prediction was made that anthracite would produce the most CO2 because anthracite produces the most heat per gram of fuel.

This was their procedure:

  1. Weigh each sample of coal.
  2. Place wire gauze on top of ring stand.
  3. Place Bunsen burner under ring stand.
  4. Attach rubber tubing to a funnel and position the funnel so that it sits on the gauze.
  5. Attach the other end of the tubing to the arm of a conical flask.
  6. Place the carbon dioxide probe in the top of the flask. Make sure that all connections are tight.
  7. Burn one sample of the coal under the funnel and collect data for 10 minutes.
  8. Graph the data.
  9. Repeat this procedure for each the other samples of coal.
  10. (Notes: The flask needs to be aired out between each monitoring of gas. Simply remove the probe for a few minutes.)

[Setup of Student Lab]
  • Observation:
  • Weight of each coal sample:
    Anthracite = 3.179g
    Bituminous = 3.517g
    Peat = 3.086g

    This was their conclusion

    Based on our data, anthracite and peat emit the most CO2 into the atmosphere, although it appears that anthracite produces more CO2 over a longer period of time.  Peat started out slower but at approx. 3 minutes it was at the same level as anthracite.  Our hypothesis was somewhat proven correct, but we were surprised that peat produced the same level of CO2 as anthracite.

    Analysing results

    Download data as an excel file

    Their experiment uses very slightly different amounts of fuel. How can we use mathematical methods to manipulate the data so that the results are fair? Does this alter the conclusions drawn?

    If we assume that the Bunsen burner was underneath the fuel during the whole burning process then the Bunsen will also produce CO2

    The 'control' results may have been for the Bunsen burner with no fuel.

    If we take away the CO from the Bunsen burner, using a spreadsheet, does this now change our conclusions?

    Can you repeat this experiment in your lab? Can you think of ways of modifying or improving the method?

    If you have not got a CO probe, could you use lime-water to indicate levels of CO2?

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