Something in the Air


Just call yourself the “VOC equalizer” – up for a challenge?!



30 minutes or longer
Environmental Science

Ready to wrangle some VOCs? Let’s do it! Join databot™ in an extra special challenge that will build on your skills from PDQ 2.  


One of the challenges our planet faces is excess production of CO2 from a variety of man-made sources.  Many years ago CO2 production was balanced with CO2 consumption – we call this equilibriumCO2 that was exhaled or formed naturally was absorbed by vegetation that was adequate to handle the quantities.

Today, with our vast cities, automobile fleets, aircraft and more humanity is producing more CO2 than our planetary vegetation can handle so the CO2 levels in our atmosphere go up each year. 

Your challenge is to learn more about equilibrium as you demonstrate your mastery over VOC production.  Who knows, one day you may discover a way to restore balance to our CO2 challenges.  Let’s explore further with databot™!


By completing this experiment and conducting the scientific observations associated with it you will master the following knowledge! Good luck science explorer!

  • Volatile Organic Compounds are emitted by a variety of chemicals into the air and can have an adverse affect on your health.
  • You can make your home and work environment safer by understanding the sources of VOCs and reducing your exposure to them.
  • Scientific sensors allow us to measure the scientific world around us with better precision and accuracy.

What You'll Need

  • IOS or Android smart device with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to connect to databot™
  • databot™ + Phypox App installed on your IOS or Android device
  • Airtight container to hold databot™ and materials for testing
  • White Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • 2 – Plastic or Glass Containers – 1 Cup or 250 ml


  • Gather your materials.
  • Review PDQ2 and your experience with it.
  • Prepare to be the “equalizer”

Challenge (25 mins)

In PDQ2 you learned the secret power of how to counter potentially dangerous VOCs through the use of a base, Baking Soda, that was able to bind with the acidic molecules in the air and remove them. 

Your challenge is to achieve equilibrium in which the production of VOCs is contained to be less than 100 PPB in your closed environment.

  • In two separate cups, place vinegar and baking soda into your airtight container.
  • Start your data recording and watch.  
  • Can you balance the consumption of VOCs  by the baking soda with the production of VOCs by the vinegar?

As you work to achieve balance, think about this challenge on a planetary scale.  Can you imagine a way to balance our global over production of CO2?    Good luck science explorer!

Recall in PDQ 2 how the VOCs released by the vinegar were neutralized by the Baking Soda.  Can you achieve equilibrium between production and consumption?

Cool bananas – equilibrium holds no fear for you!

It’s now time for some community and group hugs. Next and final stop – a collaboration activity. Enjoy!

Next Step, Collaboration!

Educator Info

These challenge extensions are designed to be fun and “challenging” for students to take them further into the topics presented in this module.  There is no alternative for experiencing abstract data in real life!  If you have the opportunity, please share stories about your student experiences!   Use our contact form – we look forward to seeing some ingenious solutions.

Educator Info

Acetic Acid Molecule Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

Switzerland Photo by Boris Baldinger on Unsplash

Something in the Air by Robert O. Grover & Team databot is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at