As an undergraduate Chemistry, Physics, or Earth Sciences teacher, you can use this set of computer-based tools to teach phase diagrams and phase equilibria. Phase diagrams can be used to understand the stability of different phases of matter (solid, liquid, and gas) under changing temperature and pressure. This lesson plan will help students learn about phase equilibria through the example of the phase diagram of water. Students will learn about the phases of water on Earth, Mars, and Venus and will discuss the role of the water cycle in making the climate of planet Earth habitable.

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

Grade Level: Undergraduate
Discipline: Physics
Topics: Phase Equilibria, Phase Diagrams of Water, Triple and Critical Points in a Phase Diagram, Degrees of Freedom, Feedback Mechanisms, Vapour Pressure, Runaway Greenhouse Effect
Climate Topic: Climate and the Atmosphere, The Greenhouse Effect
Location: Global
Languages: English
Duration: 45-60 min

Learning Outcomes

The tools in this lesson plan will enable students to:

  • describe a one-component phase diagram
  • explain various regions and points (such as the triple point, the critical point) in a phase diagram
  • define a supercritical fluid
  • compare the climates of Earth, Venus, and Mars with the help of the phase diagram of water
  • use the phase diagram to explain the water vapor feedback mechanism in the Earth's atmosphere and its role in making the planet habitable.
Contributed by Dr. Upasana Issar, Assistant Professor, Kirori Mal College and Dr. Richa Arora, Assistant Professor, Shivaji College, (University of Delhi), India.