What do you think about acid rain?

A preview of a cartoon with students asking questions about acid rain

Source: © Millgate House Publishers

Download the full cartoon and teacher guidance notes below

This concept cartoon is designed to provoke discussion and stimulate thinking around acid rain.

Use it with groups of students to elicit students’ ideas.

If you teach primary science, see the headings below to find out how to use this resource:

Skill development

Children will develop their working scientifically skills by:

  • Drawing conclusions and raising further questions that could be investigated based on their data and observations.
  • Selecting and planning the most appropriate ways to answer science questions, including:
    • Carrying out comparative and fair tests.
  • Using evidence from a range of sources to support and refute ideas.

Learning outcomes

Children will:

  • Compare and group together different kinds of rocks on the basis of their appearance and simple physical properties.

Concepts supported

Children will learn:

  • There are various different types of rock, and many of these will react with acid and dissolve.
  • That rain is usually acidic. The acidity varies according to factors like industrial pollution and the wind direction.

Suggested activity use

This activity would be useful in conjunction with other resources such as the Gravestones activity. Alternatively, you could use this activity as an opportunity for a whole-class discussion at the start of a lesson or at the end, by showing it on an interactive whiteboard or handing out copies.

You could also focus on a small group if you want to assess reasoning skills.

The follow up activities provided also give an opportunity for an investigation to be carried out which would explain the ideas involved.

Practical considerations

The concept of ‘acid rain’ could be difficult for children to grasp fully. Their ideas of acids are generally watching things dissolve or erode almost immediately when put in acid solutions. Children need to understand here that the rain is only very slightly acidic, due to pollution. When rocks are eroded by acid rain, it can take a very long time for the erosion to be noticed by us.

It is important for children to understand that this exercise isn’t designed to test ‘right or wrong’ answers, but more their thought process. You may want to prepare explanations for each of the answers given on the concept cartoon so that children can see why they might not be correct.

If you plan to carry out the follow-up practical activities, then appropriate resources will need to be sourced.


Science Concept Cartoons