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NBC News Learn, Windows to the Universe


6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Chemistry, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Types

  • Videos, 6 minutes, 20 seconds
  • Lesson Plans

Regional Focus

Global, Polar Regions


YouTube Video

Acidification of the Ocean

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  • This video introduces students to the relationship between increased CO2 levels in the atmosphere and the acidification of the ocean.
  • A lesson plan and transcript are also linked in this resource, along with other ways to access the video.
Teaching Tips


  • The video does a good job of explaining how ocean acidification is especially dangerous for marine life in the polar regions.
  • Students may be surprised to learn that scientists initially believed that the ocean could absorb extra carbon dioxide without any negative impacts.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should understand that burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide.


  • Before showing the video, teachers could ask students to think of some examples of local industries working alongside scientists to solve problems. Students could discuss their answers or write down their answers.
  • This video could be a complementary component to a larger learning activity related to ocean chemistry or vulnerabilities of marine species to changes in their ecosystems.
  • Students could research topics related to the video such as:
    • What kinds of adaptations allow polar marine animals to thrive in frigid waters?
    • What are the mechanisms for aquatic animals to build shells?
    • How do scientists measure ocean pH?
    • Why are polar regions more vulnerable to climate change? 
  • Other resources on this topic include this video on the effects of acidification on ocean coral reefs and this lesson on how the ocean is being impacted by climate change and acidification.
Scientist Notes
This resource is a collaboration between NSF and NBC that describes and demonstrates the impacts of carbon dioxide emissions on ocean acidification and ocean ecosystems. There is a video and accompanying descriptions and lesson plans. The video seems to have been re-uploaded to YouTube in 2020, although the 'Changing Planet' series seems to have been released in 2011. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Science and Engineering
    • ESS2: Earth’s Systems
      • HS-ESS2-2 Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth’s surface can create feedbacks that cause changes to other Earth systems.
      • HS-ESS2-6 Develop a quantitative model to describe the cycling of carbon among the hydrosphere, atmosphere, geosphere, and biosphere.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • MS-LS2-2 Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple ecosystems.
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