The ocean absorbs a quarter of the annual carbon dioxide (CO2) humans release into the atmosphere through wave action (NOAA). Chemically, this forms carbonic acid, which ultimately dissociates into hydrogen (H+) and carbonate ions (CO3-2). Since the industrial revolution, the concentration of hydrogen ions in the ocean has increased 29%, lowering the pH of the ocean by a staggering 0.11 units (WHOI). This phenomena is called Ocean Acidification.
Ocean Acidification is a global problem that poses great threat to the future of the ocean; scientists estimate that without dramatic and collective change in human behavior and consumption, the ocean could drop another 0.3-0.4 pH units before the end of the century. To inspire such change, or collective action, communities must introspect and foster the education of their citizens — particularly youth.
Empowering communities with environmental education opportunities such as the NOAA Bay Watershed Education and Training program and citizen science can result in powerful learning outcomes that promote conservation and stewardship, informed advocacy, and science literacy. These learning outcomes formed the purpose of the Port Townsend Marine Science Center's Ocean Acidification Study through Systems and Inquiry Science (OASSIS) Project, which implemented a twelve-class, hands-on Ocean Acidification curriculum within a Chimacum High School AP Environmental Science classroom.
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