Audience-Pleasing Physical Models to Support CO2 Outreach

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Abstract

Outreach as a way of increasing public understanding is critical to implementing carbon capture and storage. Conventional outreach lectures, however, may fail to engage a nontechnical audience. In this presentation we exhibit a selection of do-it-yourself demonstrations proven to grab an audience’s attention that can be tailored to a variety of groups.

Interesting and engaging physical models (without PowerPoint, posters, or handouts) can help speakers show a nontechnical audience (1) how CO2 is formed in the combustion of hydrocarbon molecules, (2) how much CO2 humans produce in daily activities, (3) why CO2 causes heat to be trapped in the atmosphere, (4) the properties of CO2 and its health and safety risks, and (5) how geologic storage of CO2 can work to reduce emissions. These demonstrations require only low-cost, readily available materials and have proven to be successful with a variety of audiences—from adults to elementary-school-age children. The models are simple enough to be replicated by audience members and can be used in school or community programs.

Objective

Our objective is to provide the Carbon Capture and Storage (CSS) research and outreach community with easily transferable demonstrations designed to increase public understanding and acceptance of issues related to greenhouse gas and CSS processes. Our intended audience is the general public and elementary to middle school students. We approach these issues from an allegorical, experiential perspective, assuming the audience has minimal background in physics and chemistry.