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Acid Rain Science Projects

4 Eye-opening Acid Rain Science Projects to Generate Awareness

Acid rain science projects can be very simple and interesting. Some ideas for the same are briefly outlined in this article.
Gauri Waikar
Last Updated: Sep 25, 2017
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The first acid rain reportedly occurred in Manchester, England during the Industrial Revolution. This term was first coined by Robert Angus Smith in 1972. He was the first one to establish relation between this kind of rain and air pollution. Gases, like sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxide are released in the air due to the combustion of fossil fuels. These gases combine with the rainwater to produce acidic rain. The normal rain has a pH of 5 while acidic rain has a pH less than 5; the lesser the pH, the more acidic is the water. This is very harmful not only to humans, but also to the flora and fauna. This problem is very common in the industrialized countries. You can highlight these facts by undertaking some acid rain science projects. Some ideas are given below to help you with this endeavor.
Effect of Acid Rain on Plants
Materials Needed

The materials needed are distilled water, two pots of any small plant (just one branch and some leaves will do). Both the plants should be of same size and the same type of soil should be used in both the pots. For preparing rain with an acidic pH, put some vinegar in a bottle and let it stay for 3 days. Then, add some water to it.

In order to distinguish between the pots, mark one pot as A and other as B. Place both the pots in sunlight. Water pot A with distilled water and pot B with vinegar-infused water; continue to do this for three days. Keep a close watch on the plants. On 3rd day, plant in pot B will start decaying, while the one in pot A will grow normally. This shows that acid rain hampers the natural growth of plants. If you continue the same experiment for some days, slowly, the plant in pot B will die.
Effect of Acidic pH on Plants
Materials Needed

Take two small wheat plants (probably of same height), distilled water, and sulfuric acid 4.5 and 5.5.

Name one plant as A, while the other B. Place both the plants in sunlight and water them daily. Add 125 ml of sulfuric acid 4.5 to plant A and sulfuric acid 5.5 to plant to plant B twice in a day. After 4-5 days, you will realize plant A is dead while plant B is still decaying. This happens because sulfuric acid 4.5 is more acidic than sulfuric acid 5.5.
Effects of Acid Rain on Metals
Materials Needed

You will need two small non-metallic glasses, distilled water, vinegar, two small copper pennies (minted before 1983), and plastic wrap to perform this experiment.

Name one glass A while the other B. Place one copper penny in each glass. Fill glass A with distilled water while B with water mixed with vinegar. Cover the glasses with a plastic wrap to prevent the evaporation of water. Observe them for five days. After the 5th day, you will realize the water in glass B has become green. This happens because of the reaction of that water with copper. If you observe the copper penny in glass B, you will see that there is no change. This is because the reaction is very slow. Thus you can say that rains with low pH (acidic) causes rusting of metals.
Effects of Acid Rain on Aquatic Life
Materials Needed
The materials needed are distilled water, spoon, measuring cup, white vinegar, marker, 4 plastic containers, dropper, pond snails (or any aquatic being, which can be found in aquarium stores), pH meter.

Label the plastic containers with a marker, as A, B, C, and D. Fill A with clean, distilled water (do not add vinegar), test its pH, and note it down. Next, use the dropper to add vinegar drops in the other 3 containers, in the increasing order, i.e., B should have lesser drops than C, and C should have lesser drops then D. This means that B should be least acidic as opposed to D, which should be most acidic. Measure the pH and note it down. Put some number of snails in every container. Note down the number. Observe them after a few days, and you will find that they have not survived. This is because, these invertebrates are highly sensitive to acidification, due to their calcite shells. They cannot survive in water with a pH of less than 5.
During the exhibition, mention about the formation of acid rain, its effects, and preventive measures. Such a project is a good way of showing your concern for the environment.