As an undergraduate-level Organic Chemistry teacher, you can use this set of computer-based tools to help you teach infrared (IR) spectroscopy and the use of IR spectra to detect functional groups in organic molecules.

The lesson plan will help students differentiate between IR active molecules and IR inactive molecules. It focuses on the behavior of molecules of gases such as CO2 and water vapor when they interact with IR radiation and helps in explaining the greenhouse effect of the atmosphere.

Thus, the use of this lesson plan allows you to integrate the teaching of a climate science topic with a core topic in Organic Chemistry.

Grade Level: Undergraduate

Discipline: Chemistry


  • Infrared (IR) Spectroscopy, Molecular Vibration
  • Vibrational Modes, IR Active Molecule
  • IR Absorption and Greenhouse Gases
  • Greenhouse Effect
  • Diagnostic and Fingerprint Regions of Infrared (IR) Spectra

Climate Topic:

  • Climate and the Atmosphere
  • The Greenhouse Effect

Location: Global

Languages: English

Learning Outcomes

The tools in this lesson plan will enable students to:

  • identify the presence or absence of functional groups in an unknown organic compound and use IR spectroscopy as a tool for structural identification of organic compounds
  • differentiate between an IR active mode of vibration and an IR inactive mode of vibration in a molecule
  • explain why carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and why nitrogen and oxygen are not greenhouse gases
  • discuss the relative global warming potentials of various greenhouse gases