Lesson 3 Activity 1 - Add CO2

In this lesson, the students will modify the Greenhouse Gas base model by adding a factory that emits CO2 to answer the question, “Does adding CO2 affect the temperature?”
  • View the video of the challenge
  • Review code and concepts useful for modifying the model
  • Review human greenhouse gas emission sources
  • Identify and code essential aspects of the model to modify
  • Test your model
  • Compare your solution to one provided.

View the video of the challenge

Review code and concepts 

  • Breeds:  We’ll be adding a factory that emits CO2 into our Greenhouse Gas model. Both the factory and the CO2 are new “breeds” or types of agents, because they behave differently from the other breeds or agents in the model at present.   
  • CS Review: code and concepts useful for the modification.
    • Adding breeds (a factory and CO2) and using create and do block
    • Giving breeds new traits (defining and setting user-defined traits)


Use the Edit Breeds button in the Spaceland area to create a new breed.

Click on “Add Breed” to add a new breed.

In the “New Breed” dialog box, give the breed a name and press OK.

Review human greenhouse gas emission sources
  • Have the students use the Model Design Form to guide their modification process.
  • What are we missing from this model? Greenhouse gases!
  • Let’s make this model into a representation of greenhouse gases coming from human activities. How about a factory that emits CO2? (Practice 2: Developing and using models) (Practice 6: Constructing explanations and designing solutions)

Identify the essential aspects of the modification to include in the model and code them.

  • In this lesson plan, one potential way to add a factory that emits CO2 is presented. However, this activity allows for student freedom in terms of breed traits, number of factories, and also the way they emit CO2. Incorporating this freedom in the lesson can allow students to have more control over their learning.
  • Let’s think about factories emitting CO2 and what are the essential parts of that we might be able to include in our model. Keep it simple!  Factory – it’s a building that emits a lot of CO2 while it’s running. CO2 - it comes from the factory and rises. It blocks heat from escaping. It eventually decays if left alone for enough time. Both the CO2 and the Factory will be new breeds.
  • In pairs, open up your Greenhouse Gas model or start from the base model (www.slnova.org/GUTS/projects/22078). We don’t need the albedo slider for this. Take turns driving and navigating.
  • Remix it and call it "Greenhouse Gases with Factory and CO2".
  • Add a breed for CO2 and a breed for the factory.
  • Navigate to the code. Are there tabs for CO2 and factory now? Great! Now it’s time to code some behavior for our new agents.
  • Add a factory, give it a location, size and color.  Then give it a behavior: emitting CO2.  [Hint: use a create]
  • Add CO2. Once the CO2 are created, they need some behavior.  See if you can make the CO2 move upwards in the atmosphere, hover then decay.

Testing your model

  • Run the code. Hit setup. Did the factory appear as well as the Sun? Did it go to a random location? Yes? Now hit forever. The sun shoots out solar energy that bounces back as reflected energy and heat. Wait until the heat graph shows that the heat is more or less stable, then push run factory. Did the factory emit CO2? Yes? Great! Did the CO2 rise to a certain height and then stop? Yes? Great! (Practice 3: Planning and carrying out investigations)
  • How much CO2 do we have? We don’t know! So, what do we need to add to the model to be able to monitor the CO2 levels? A graph and a data box. Add these in. Test the graph and data box – do they change when we add CO2 now? Does the CO2 slowly decay with time? (Practice 4: Analyzing and interpreting data)


View the video of a model with CO2  (note: there are many possible solutions).


Upload a link to your new model and your model design form to your portfolio in the section "SL Nova projects- Earth" under the heading "Greenhouse gas model with Factory and CO2".   Reflect on how you could make this model more realistic.  For example, in your community, what would be a relevant example of something that emits CO2?