To have students observe the greenhouse effect and analyze its effect on Earth.


This lab will take approximately 1 hour.


  • 2- or 3-liter plastic soda bottles (3 bottles per group)
  • Lamp (100 watt or greater)
  • One-hole stopper that fits in the mouth of the bottle
  • 1 sheet of black paper and 1 sheet of white paper
  • Thermometer
  • Ruler or meter stick
  • Tape


  1. Each group should obtain a plastic soda bottle.  Take the stopper and insert it into the mouth of the bottle.
  2. CAREFULLY insert the thermometer into the stopper so that it hangs in the middle of the bottle.  You might want to use petroleum jelly to help get the thermometer through the stopper without breaking it. 
  3. Record the initial temperature of the air in the bottle before turning on the lamp.
  4. Position the bottle so that it is 15 cm from the lamp. 
  5. Turn the light on and watch the temperature change.  Once the temperature has not changed for approximately 3 minutes, record the final temperature in the data table that follows.
  6. Take the white piece of paper and wrap it around half of the second bottle.  Tape the paper on.  Repeat steps 4 to 6 and record.
  7. Take the black piece of paper and wrap it around half of the third bottle.  Tape the paper on.  Repeat steps 4 to 6 and record.


BottleInitial temperatureFinal temperature
Without paper  
With white paper  
With black paper  


  1. How do the bottles represent Earth? 
  • Explain the natural greenhouse effect and why it is important to our planet. How many degrees would earth be different without the Greehouse effect?
  • Why did the lab have you cover the bottle with white and black paper?  What does this represent?
  • List all the chemicals that have been linked to climate change, both natural and anthropogenic. Differentiate between GWP of different gases.
  • How is global warming affecting the environment? What are major impacts on the environment caused by climate change?

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