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Climate Status Investigations
Department of Energy
National Energy Technology Laboratory
Curriculum Grid
Day One | Day Two | Day Three | Day Four | Day Five | Day Six | Day Seven | Day Eight | Day Nine | Day ten
CO2 and Mass Day 3:

The Great Climate Debate (Language Arts)
CO2 & Mass (Science)
Eating Up Energy (Math)
Stakeholder Grid (Social Studies)
Community Game (Extension Activity)
Links on this page: Student Table 1 | Teacher Answer Key 

National Education Standards Met:


Science discipline


Goal: Students will determine if Carbon Dioxide has mass.

Objectives: Students will:

  • Identify that CO2 has mass
  • Use chemistry to determine the mass of CO2

Materials (per lab group):

  • 1 twist tie baggie with 2 ties (quart size)
  • 1 tablespoon of baking soda
  • 40 ml's of vinegar
  • 50 ml beaker
  • Triple beam balance or similar scale
  • Metal pie tin
  • Safety glasses for each student
  • Student Response Sheet for each student

Time: 50 minutes

Standards Met: S1, S2, S3, S7

Introduction and Teacher Background: Many students believe that gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) do not have mass. The fact is that atmospheric gases like CO2 have a tremendous amount of mass if you consider how much there is of them in our atmosphere.  In this activity, students will use baking soda and vinegar to produce CO2 and trap it in a bag.  After puncturing the bag, students will notice that mass has been lost.


  • Zero the scale with the pie tin on it.
  • Place 1 tablespoon of baking soda into bottom of bag and tie the bag off with a twist tie above the baking soda.
  • Add 40 ml's of vinegar to the bag (making sure that it does not reach the baking soda) and tie the bag off with another twist tie near the top of the bag.  Leave plenty of room for the bag to expand when the gas is formed.
  • Place the entire bag setup in the pie tin on the scale and find its mass.  Record this mass in Table 1.
  • Untie the twist tie between the baking soda and vinegar and allow the two materials to mix and inflate the bag.
  • Find the mass of the inflated bag and record in Table 1.
  • Puncture the bag and let just the gas escape.
  • Find the mass of the deflated bag and record in Table 1.
  • Determine the mass of the gas and record in Table 1.
  • Clean up your lab station according to your instructor's directions and answer the questions on the Student Response Sheet.

CO2 and Mass-Student Table 1

Mass of bag before reaction (grams)

Mass of bag after reaction (grams)

Mass of bag after gas has escaped (grams)

Mass of gas (CO2) (grams)







Student Response Sheet

  1. Does the gas carbon dioxide have mass? Give proof for you answer.

  2. During the reaction between the baking soda and vinegar, was any mass lost?  Explain your answer.

  3. What is the term for the affect that the combined weight of all the gases in our atmosphere has on us?

  4. What other type of chemical reactions produce CO2 (give at least four)?

CO2 and Mass - Teacher Answer Key

  1. Does the gas carbon dioxide have mass? Give proof for you answer.

    Yes, carbon dioxide does have mass.  When the bag was opened, and the gas escaped, the mass decreased.
  2. During the reaction between the baking soda and vinegar, was any mass lost?  Explain your answer.

    If the bag was sealed tightly, no mass should have been lost.  Some of the mass that was contained in the baking soda and vinegar was converted into the mass of the gas that was produced from the reaction, but the total mass did not change.
  3. What is the term for the effect that the combined weight of all the gases in our atmosphere has on us? 

    The term that is used is atmospheric pressure.
  4. What other type of chemical reactions produce CO2 (give at least four)? 

    Four other types of reactions that produce carbon dioxide are; cellular respiration, fermentation of ethanol, the manufacture of ammonia, and the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, gas and oil.

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