This short activity allows students to visualize the negative impacts on ocean organisms as the pH of the ocean drops (ocean acidification or OA).

It focuses on the how the changes in ocean chemistry, as more CO2 dissolves in the water, affects life in the ocean.  Student groups play four rounds of a modified card game War with the changes in the rules as the pH of the ocean drops. This activity will help uncover student misconceptions that in order for OA to hurt organisms, the pH must reach acidic levels. This lesson is part of a broader unit on pH which would be applicable to both chemistry courses and the biochemistry unit in biology as well as ecological impacts of a changing environment.



Katie Lodes

Teacher Resources

Student Resources

Additional Resources

Next Generation Science Standards

Crosscutting Concepts
  • Cause and effect
Core Ideas
  • PS1.B: Chemical Reactions
  • ESS3.C: Human Impacts on Earth Systems
  • Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
  • Analyzing and interpreting data

Ocean Literacy Fundamental Concepts

  • 3.F: The ocean has had, and will continue to have, a significant influence on climate change by absorbing, storing, and moving heat, carbon and water.