This set of 4 activities leads the teacher and students through an understanding of the carbon cycle and greenhouse gases. This unit is designed to be used as an introduction to the carbon cycle.
The human aspect of the overproduction of greenhouse gases is explored through note taking, role-playing, and web searches. The culminating activity requires that the students analyze graphs to determine areas of greenhouse production and develop solutions to the problem. Students will write letters to local or state officials describing the problem and offering solutions for their particular communities.
Activity 1: Web Search
Activity 1 is a web search using the NASA website "Climate Kids". Students will use the page to identify 5 greenhouse gases, areas of greenhouse gas production, areas of greenhouse gas absorption, and solutions to the problem.
Activity 1 Student Handout
Activity 2: Carbon Cycle Model
Activity 2 instructs students to use a set of interactive notes and the NASA Climate Kids website to construct a model of the carbon cycle. The model uses pictures and arrows which are color-coded to show sources and sinks in the carbon cycle.
Activity 2 Student Handout
Activity 3: Carbon Cycle Role Play
1. Show the introductory video from NASA “Coal vs Banana” at http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/blogs/earthmatters/2011/06/24/the-two-minute-carbon-cycle/
2. Complete the role-playing activity designed by the California Academy of Sciences. This activity requires the use of 14-28 ping pong balls to help illustrate carbon transfer: https://www.calacademy.org/educators/lesson-plans/carbon-cycle-role-play.
Activity 4: Human's Role in the Carbon Cycle and Climate Change
Activity 4 uses another NASA video to show how humans affect greenhouse gas production through their activities and removal of green spaces.
It culminates with a web search and an end-of-unit assessment requiring students to write a letter to an elected official describing a greenhouse gas problem and a possible solution. An assessment rubric is available.
1. Show the introductory video from NASA “Carbon Usage on Earth” at http://www.geography4kids.com/files/cycles_carbon.html
2. Use the EPA website to answer the questions on the activity sheet. http://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/global.html
Activity 4 Student Handout