New
New
Year 11
OCR
Foundation

Earth's atmosphere (approximate values)

I can describe the composition of Earth's atmosphere.

New
New
Year 11
OCR
Foundation

Earth's atmosphere (approximate values)

I can describe the composition of Earth's atmosphere.

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Lesson details

Key learning points

  1. The atmosphere comprises ~80% nitrogen and ~20% oxygen.
  2. The atmosphere contains small proportions of various other gases, including CO₂, water vapour and noble gases.
  3. The atmosphere thins out with height which makes it harder for humans to breathe sufficient oxygen at high altitude.
  4. The atmosphere contains water, mainly in its gas state but in its liquid (or solid) state in clouds and precipitation.
  5. The atmosphere also contains a wide range of solid particulates.

Common misconception

The atmosphere is mostly oxygen. The same atmospheric conditions exist at all heights.

Explain that the atmosphere is ~80% nitrogen and ~20% oxygen. Discuss how atmospheric conditions vary with altitude, affecting oxygen availability.

Keywords

  • Atmosphere - The atmosphere is a layer of gas that surrounds a planet. It may contain small amounts of solid and liquid particles.

  • Composition - Composition is the substances and their proportions that make something up.

  • Precipitation - Water in a liquid or solid state that falls towards Earth is called precipitation.

  • Altitude - The distance above sea level is known as altitude.

  • Particulates - Particulates are very small particles of solids and liquids that are suspended in air.

This lesson is a good opportunity to recap elements, compounds and mixtures. Check students understand the elements and compounds that make up air (mixture).
Teacher tip

Licence

This content is © Oak National Academy Limited (2024), licensed on Open Government Licence version 3.0 except where otherwise stated. See Oak's terms & conditions (Collection 2).

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6 Questions

Q1.
Which of the following will you find in the Earth's atmosphere?
aluminium
gold
Correct answer: nitrogen
zinc
Q2.
What percentage of the Earth's atmosphere is carbon dioxide?
Correct answer: less than 1%
1%
more than 1%
Q3.
Which word is used to describe a substance that contains two or more different substances which are not chemically combined?
Correct Answer: mixture
Q4.
Which word is used to describe the mass per unit volume?
displacement
Correct answer: density
velocity
temperature
Q5.
The atmosphere is ...
the space that exists between Earth and the Sun.
all the living organisms within an ecosystem.
Correct answer: a layer of gas that surrounds a planet.
Q6.
Which gas in our atmosphere is essential for life on Earth?
Correct Answer: oxygen

6 Questions

Q1.
What is the approximate percentage of oxygen in Earth's atmosphere?
80%
Correct answer: 20%
1%
0.04%
Q2.
Which is the most abundant gas in Earth's atmosphere?
Correct Answer: nitrogen
Q3.
What molecule does the atmosphere contain as a vapour, as well as in the liquid and solid states?
Correct Answer: water
Q4.
Why is it difficult for humans to breathe sufficient oxygen at high altitudes?
the air pressure increases at high altitudes
air is more dense at high altitudes
Correct answer: there are less oxygen molecules per volume of air at high altitudes
Q5.
What is the name for very small particles of solids and liquids that are suspended in air?
Correct Answer: particulates
Q6.
At high altitudes such as the top of Everest, how does the composition of the atmosphere compare to at sea level?
there is a higher percentage of nitrogen
there is a lower percentage of oxygen
Correct answer: the percentage composition of gases is the same