ALEX Lesson Plan

     

Climate Change & The Carbon Cycle

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Amanda King
System: Muscle Shoals City
School: Muscle Shoals Middle School
And
Author:Bryan Kennedy
System: Winfield City
School: Winfield Middle School
The event this resource created for:NASA
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 34332

Title:

Climate Change & The Carbon Cycle

Overview/Annotation:

Students will explore greenhouse gases, how they effect the carbon cycle and the human role in climate change.  

This lesson was created as part of the 2016 NASA STEM Standards of Practice Project, a collaboration between the Alabama State Department of Education and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
Science
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 6
Earth and Space Science
7 ) Use models to construct explanations of the various biogeochemical cycles of Earth (e.g., water, carbon, nitrogen) and the flow of energy that drives these processes.

Insight Unpacked Content
Scientific And Engineering Practices:
Developing and Using Models
Crosscutting Concepts: Stability and Change
Disciplinary Core Idea: Earth's Systems
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
Students:
  • Use models to explain the various biogeochemical cycles of Earth and the flow of energy that drives these processes.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • Biogeochemical
  • Biotic
  • Abiotic
  • Atom
  • Water cycle
  • Carbon cycle
  • Nitrogen cycle
  • Chemical compound
  • Hydrogen
  • Oxygen
  • Gravity
  • Atmosphere
  • Water vapor
  • Crystallize
  • Transpiration
  • Evaporation
  • Condensation
  • Precipitation
  • Glacier
  • Aquifer
  • Ice sheet
  • Organism
  • Decompose
  • Respiration
  • Element
  • Chemical process
  • Ecosystem
  • Geosphere
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Methane
  • Photosynthesis
  • Fossil fuel
  • Nitrogen
  • Carbon
  • Amino acid
  • Protein
  • DNA
  • Molecule
  • Bacteria
  • Fertilizer
  • Livestock
  • Nitrate
Knowledge:
Students:
  • The cycle of atoms between living and non-living things is known as a biogeochemical cycle.
  • Biogeochemical cycles interact through biotic and abiotic processes.
  • Biotic involves living or once living things such as plants, animals, and bacteria.
  • Abiotic involves nonliving things like air, rocks, and water.
  • Biogeochemical cycles may include, but are not limited to, the water, carbon, and nitrogen cycles.
  • The water cycle is the continuous process by which water is circulated throughout the earth and the atmosphere.
  • Water is a chemical compound made up of the elements hydrogen and oxygen.
  • Global movements of water and its changes in form are propelled by sunlight and gravity.
  • Energy from the sun drives the movement of water from the Earth (e.g., oceans, landforms, plants) into the atmosphere through transpiration and evaporation.
  • Water vapor in the atmosphere can cool and condense to form rain or crystallize to form snow or ice, which returns to Earth when pulled down by gravity.
  • Water continually cycles among land, ocean, and atmosphere via transpiration, evaporation, condensation and crystallization, and precipitation, as well as downhill flows on land.
  • Gravity causes water on land to move downhill (e.g., rivers and glaciers) and much of it eventually flows into oceans.
  • Some liquid and solid water remains on land in the form of bodies of water, glaciers and ice sheets or can be stored below ground in aquifers.
  • Some water remains in the tissues of plants and other living organisms, and this water is released when the tissues decompose. Water is also released by plants through transpiration and by other living organisms through respiration.
  • Carbon is an element found in the oceans, air, rocks, soil and all living organisms.
  • Carbon is the fundamental building block of life and an important component of many chemical processes.
  • In a process called the carbon cycle, carbon is exchanged among Earth's oceans, atmosphere, ecosystem, and geosphere.
  • Carbon is present in the atmosphere primarily attached to oxygen in a gas called carbon dioxide (CO2), but is also found in other less abundant but climatically significant gases, such as methane (CH4).
  • With the help of the Sun, through the process of photosynthesis, carbon dioxide is pulled from the air to make plant food.
  • Through food chains, the carbon that is in plants moves to the animals that eat them. When an animal eats another animal, the carbon is transferred.
  • When plants and animals die, their bodies, wood, and leaves decay bringing the carbon into the ground. Some become buried miles underground and will become fossil fuels in millions and millions of years.
  • Organisms release carbon dioxide gas through a process called respiration.
  • When humans burn fossil fuels to power factories, power plants, cars and trucks, most of the carbon quickly enters the atmosphere as carbon dioxide gas.
  • The oceans, and other bodies of water, soak up some carbon from the atmosphere.
  • Nitrogen is an element found in living things like plants and animals.
  • Nitrogen is also an important part of non-living things like the air and the soil.
  • Nitrogen atoms move slowly between living things, dead things, the air, soil and water.
  • The continuous process by which nitrogen is exchanged between organisms and the environment is called the nitrogen cycle.
  • Most of the nitrogen on Earth is in the atmosphere as molecules of nitrogen gas (N2).
  • All plants and animals need nitrogen to make amino acids, proteins, and DNA, but the nitrogen in the atmosphere is not in a form that they can use.
  • The molecules of nitrogen in the atmosphere can become usable for living things when they are broken apart during lightning strikes or fires, by certain types of bacteria, or by bacteria associated with bean plants.
  • Most plants get the nitrogen they need to grow from the soils or water in which they live. Animals get the nitrogen they need by eating plants or other animals that contain nitrogen.
  • When organisms die, their bodies decompose bringing the nitrogen into soil on land or into ocean water. Bacteria alter the nitrogen into a form that plants are able to use. Other types of bacteria are able to change nitrogen dissolved in waterways into a form that allows it to return to the atmosphere.
  • Certain actions of humans can cause changes to the nitrogen cycle and the amount of nitrogen that is stored in the land, water, air, and organisms.
  • The use of nitrogen-rich fertilizers can add too much nitrogen in nearby waterways as the fertilizer washes into streams and ponds. The waste associated with livestock farming also adds large amounts of nitrogen into soil and water. The increased nitrate levels cause plants to grow rapidly until they use up the supply and die. The number of plant-eating animals will increase when the plant supply increases and then the animals are left without any food when the plants die.
Skills:
Students are able to:
  • Use a model of the various biogeochemical cycles and identify the relevant components.
  • Describe the relationships between components of the model including the flow of energy.
  • Articulate a statement that relates a given phenomenon to a scientific idea, including the various biogeochemical cycles of Earth and the flow of energy that drives these processes.
Understanding:
Students understand that:
  • The transfer of energy drives the motion and/or cycling of matter of the various biogeochemical cycles.
AMSTI Resources:
AMSTI Module:
Understanding Weather and Climate

NAEP Framework
NAEP Statement::
E12.11: Earth is a system containing essentially a fixed amount of each stable chemical atom or element. Most elements can exist in several different chemical forms. Earth elements move within and between the lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere as part of biogeochemical cycles.

NAEP Statement::
E8.14a: Water, which covers the majority of Earth's surface, circulates through the crust, oceans, and atmosphere in what is known as the water cycle.

NAEP Statement::
E8.14b: Water evaporates from Earth's surface, rises and cools as it moves to higher elevations, condenses as clouds, falls as rain or snow, and collects in lakes, oceans, soil, and underground.



Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.6.7- Use a model to explain the water cycle, including evaporation, condensation, and precipitation; recognize that the sun provides the energy which drives the water cycle.


Science
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 6
Earth and Space Science
14 ) Analyze and interpret data (e.g., tables, graphs, maps of global and regional temperatures; atmospheric levels of gases such as carbon dioxide and methane; rates of human activities) to describe how various human activities (e.g., use of fossil fuels, creation of urban heat islands, agricultural practices) and natural processes (e.g., solar radiation, greenhouse effect, volcanic activity) may cause changes in local and global temperatures over time.

Insight Unpacked Content
Scientific And Engineering Practices:
Analyzing and Interpreting Data
Crosscutting Concepts: Stability and Change
Disciplinary Core Idea: Earth's Systems
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
Students:
  • Analyze data to describe how various human activities may cause changes in local and global temperatures over time.
  • Interpret data to describe how various human activities may cause changes in local and global temperatures over time.
  • Analyze data to describe how various natural processes may cause changes in local and global temperatures over time.
  • Interpret data to describe how various natural processes may cause changes in local and global temperatures over time.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • Natural processes
  • Human activities
  • Global temperatures
  • Mean surface temperature
  • Global warming
  • Solar radiation
  • Greenhouse Effect
  • Volcanic activity
  • Fossil fuels
  • Combustion
  • Urban heat islands
  • Agriculture
  • Natural systems
  • Carbon dioxide (gases)
  • Greenhouse gases
  • Concentration
  • Atmosphere
  • Climate change
Knowledge:
Students know:
  • Natural processes and/or human activities may have affected the patterns of change in global temperatures over the past century, leading to the current rise in Earth's mean surface temperature (global warming).
  • Natural processes may include factors such as changes in incoming solar radiation, the greenhouse effect, or volcanic activity.
  • Human activities may include factors such as fossil fuel combustion, the creation of urban heat islands, and agricultural activity.
  • Natural processes and/or human activities may lead to a gradual or sudden change in global temperatures in natural systems (e.g., glaciers and arctic ice, and plant and animal seasonal movements and life cycle activities).
  • Natural processes and/or human activities may have led to changes in the concentration of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere over the past century.
  • Patterns in data connect natural processes and human activities to changes in global temperatures over the past century.
  • Patterns in data connect the changes in natural processes and/or human activities related to greenhouse gas production to changes in the concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
  • Reducing the level of climate change and reducing human vulnerability to whatever climate changes do occur depend on the understanding of climate science, engineering capabilities, and other kinds of knowledge, such as understanding of human behavior and on applying that knowledge wisely in decisions and activities.
Skills:
Students are able to:
  • Organize given data on various human activities, natural processes, and changes in local and global temperatures to allow for analysis and interpretation.
  • Analyze the data to identify possible causal relationships between human activities and natural processes and changes in local and global temperature over time.
  • Interpret patterns observed from the data to provide causal accounts for events and make predictions for events by constructing explanations.
Understanding:
Students understand that:
  • Human activities and natural processes may affect local and global temperatures over time.
AMSTI Resources:
AMSTI Module:
Understanding Weather and Climate

NAEP Framework
NAEP Statement::
E8.7a: The atmosphere is a mixture of nitrogen, oxygen, and trace gases that include water vapor.

NAEP Statement::
E8.7b: The atmosphere has a different physical and chemical composition at different elevations.



Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.6.14- Interpret data (e.g., tables, graphs) to determine changes in local and global temperatures over time; identify human activities (e.g. the use of fossil fuels) and natural processes (e.g. volcanic activity) as causes of these changes in temperatures.


Science
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 6
Earth and Space Science
15 ) Analyze evidence (e.g., databases on human populations, rates of consumption of food and other natural resources) to explain how changes in human population, per capita consumption of natural resources, and other human activities (e.g., land use, resource development, water and air pollution, urbanization) affect Earth's systems.

Insight Unpacked Content
Scientific And Engineering Practices:
Analyzing and Interpreting Data
Crosscutting Concepts: Cause and Effect
Disciplinary Core Idea: Earth and Human Activity
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
Students:
  • Analyze evidence regarding how changes in human population, per capita consumption of natural resources, and other human activities affect Earth's systems.
  • Explain how changes in human population, per capita consumption of natural resources, and other human activities affect Earth's systems.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • Population
  • Per capita
  • Consumption
  • Natural resource
  • Environment
  • Earth's systems
  • Consequences
Knowledge:
Students know:
  • Increases in the size of the human population or in the per capita consumption of a given population cause increases in the consumption of natural resources.
  • Natural resources are any naturally occurring substances or features of the environment that, while not created by human effort, can be exploited by humans to satisfy their needs or wants.
  • Per capita consumption is the average use per person within a population.
  • Natural resource consumption causes changes in Earth systems.
  • Engineered solutions alter the effects of human populations on Earth systems by changing the rate of natural resource consumption or reducing the effects of changes in Earth systems.
  • All human activity draws on natural resources and has both short and long-term consequences, positive as well as negative, for the health of people and the natural environment.
  • The consequences of increases in human populations and consumption of natural resources are described by science, but science does not make the decisions for the actions society takes.
Skills:
Students are able to:
  • Organize given evidence regarding changes in human population, changes in per capita consumption of natural resources, human activities, and Earth's systems to allow for analysis and interpretation.
  • Analyze the data to identify possible causal relationships between changes in human population, changes in per capita consumption of natural resources, human activities, and Earth's systems.
  • Interpret patterns observed from the data to provide causal accounts for events and make predictions for events by constructing explanations.
Understanding:
Students understand that:
  • Human population growth affects natural resource consumption and natural resource consumption has an effect on Earth systems; therefore, changes in human populations have a causal role in changing Earth systems.
  • Typically as human populations and per-capita consumption of natural resources increase, so do the negative impacts on Earth unless the activities and technologies involved are engineered otherwise.
AMSTI Resources:
AMSTI Module:
Exploring Planetary Systems
Understanding Weather and Climate

NAEP Framework
NAEP Statement::
E8.15a: Human activities, such as reducing the amount of forest cover, increasing the amount and variety of chemicals released into the atmosphere, and intensive farming, have changed Earth's land, oceans, and atmosphere.

NAEP Statement::
E8.15b: Studies of plant and animal populations have shown that such activities can reduce the number and variety of wild plants and animals and sometimes result in the extinction of species.



Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.6.15- Compare the relationship between human population and food consumption, water use, and land use.


Science
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 7
Life Science
5 ) Examine the cycling of matter between abiotic and biotic parts of ecosystems to explain the flow of energy and the conservation of matter.

a. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about how food is broken down through chemical reactions to create new molecules that support growth and/or release energy as it moves through an organism.

b. Generate a scientific explanation based on evidence for the role of photosynthesis and cellular respiration in the cycling of matter and flow of energy into and out of organisms.

Insight Unpacked Content
Scientific And Engineering Practices:
Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions; Asking Questions and Defining Problems; Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information
Crosscutting Concepts: Energy and Matter
Disciplinary Core Idea: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
Students:
  • Explain that matter is cycled and conserved within an ecosystem's abiotic factors and biotic organisms.
  • Gather and synthesize information with attention given to accuracy, credibility, and bias.
  • Explain that food moves through a series of chemical reactions in which it is broken down or rearranged to support growth, or release energy, using collected evidence.
  • Articulate the idea that photosynthesis and cellular respiration result in the cycling of matter and energy into and out of organisms using collected evidence from a variety of sources.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • Abiotic
  • Organisms as producers, consumers, and/or decomposers
  • Biotic
  • Evaluate
  • Ecosystem
  • Communicate
  • Chemical reaction
  • Molecules
  • Photosynthesis
  • Food web
  • Cellular respiration
  • Energy
  • Matter
  • Energy transfer
Knowledge:
Students know:
  • Organisms can be classified as producers, consumers, and/or decomposers.
  • Abiotic parts of an ecosystem provide matter to biotic organisms.
  • Biotic organisms of an ecosystem provide matter to abiotic parts.
  • Energy flow within an ecosystem.
  • The number of each type of atom is the same before and after chemical reactions, indicating that the matter ingested as food is conserved as it moves through an organism to support growth.
  • During cellular respiration, molecules of food undergo chemical reactions with oxygen to release stored energy.
  • The atoms in food are rearranged through chemical reactions to form new molecules.
  • All matter (atoms) used by the organism for growth comes from the products of the chemical reactions involving the matter taken in by the organism.
  • Food molecules taken in by the organism are broken down and can then be rearranged to become the molecules that comprise the organism (e.g., the proteins and other macromolecules in a hamburger can be broken down and used to make a variety of tissues in humans).
  • As food molecules are rearranged, energy is released and can be used to support other processes within the organisms.
  • Plants, algae, and photosynthetic microorganisms require energy and must take in carbon dioxide and water to survive.
  • Energy from the sun is used to combine molecules (e.g., carbon dioxide and water) into food molecules (e.g., sugar) and oxygen.
  • Animals take in food and oxygen to provide energy and materials for growth and survival.
  • Some animals eat plants algae and photosynthetic microorganisms, and some animals eat other animals, which have themselves eaten photosynthetic organisms.
Skills:
Students are able to:
  • Articulate a statement that relates a given phenomenon to a scientific idea, including the cycling of matter and flow of energy among biotic and abiotic parts of ecosystems.
  • Identify and use multiple valid and reliable sources of evidence to construct an explanation.
  • Use reasoning to connect the evidence and support an explanation.
  • Obtain information about how food is broken down through chemical reactions to create new molecules that support growth and/or release energy as it moves through an organism from published, grade-level appropriate material from multiple sources.
  • Determine and describe whether the gathered information is relevant.
  • Use information to communicate how food is broken down through chemical reactions to create new molecules that support growth and/or release energy as it moves through an organism.
  • Articulate a statement that relates a given phenomenon to a scientific idea, including the idea that photosynthesis and cellular respiration cycle matter and energy.
  • Identify and use multiple valid and reliable sources of evidence to explain the roles of photosynthesis and cellular respiration in cycling matter and energy.
  • Use reasoning to connect the evidence and support an explanation of the roles of photosynthesis and cellular respiration in the cycling of matter and flow of energy into and out of organisms.
Understanding:
Students understand that:
  • There is a transfer of energy and a cycling of atoms that were originally captured from the nonliving parts of the ecosystem by the producers.
  • The transfer of matter (atoms) and energy between living and nonliving parts of the ecosystem at every level within the system, which allows matter to cycle and energy to flow within and outside of the system.
  • The atoms that make up the organisms in an ecosystem are cycled repeatedly between the living and nonliving parts of the ecosystem.
  • Matter and energy are conserved through transfers within and outside of the ecosystem.
  • Relationship among producers, consumers, and decomposers (e.g., decomposers break down consumers and producers via chemical reactions and use the energy released from rearranging those molecules for growth and development.
  • Within individual organisms, food moves through a series of chemical reactions in which it is broken down and rearranged to form new molecules, to support growth, or to release energy.
  • Plants, algae, and photosynthetic microorganisms take in matter and use energy from the sun to produce organic molecules that they can use or store, and release oxygen into the environment through photosynthesis.
  • Plants use the food they have made for energy, growth, etc.
  • Animals depend on matter from plants for growth and survival, including the following:
    • Eating photosynthetic organisms, thus acquiring the matter they contain, that they gained through photosynthesis.
    • Breathing in oxygen, which was released when plants completed photosynthesis.
  • Animals acquire their food from photosynthetic organisms (or organisms that have eaten those organisms) and their oxygen from the products of photosynthesis, all food and most of the oxygen animals use from life processes are the results of energy from the sun driving matter flows through the process of photosynthesis.
  • Photosynthesis has an important role in energy and matter cycling within plants as well as from plants and other organisms.
AMSTI Resources:
AMSTI Module:
Investigating Biodiversity and Interdependence

NAEP Framework
NAEP Statement::
L8.3c: Food is used to provide energy for the work that cells do and is a source of the molecular building blocks from which needed materials are assembled.

NAEP Statement::
L8.4a: Plants are producers; that is, they use the energy from light to make sugar molecules from the atoms of carbon dioxide and water.

NAEP Statement::
L8.5a: All animals, including humans, are consumers that meet their energy needs by eating other organisms or their products.

NAEP Statement::
L8.5b: Consumers break down the structures of the organisms they eat to make the materials they need to grow and function.

NAEP Statement::
L8.5c: Decomposers, including bacteria and fungi, use dead organisms or their products to meet their energy needs.

NAEP Statement::
P8.13a: Nuclear reactions take place in the Sun.

NAEP Statement::
P8.13b: In plants, light from the Sun is transferred to oxygen and carbon compounds, which, in combination, have chemical potential energy (photosynthesis).



Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.7.5- Distinguish between abiotic and biotic parts of an ecosystem.
SCI.AAS.7.5a- Recognize that food is broken down through chemical reactions to provide energy needed for the growth of organisms.
SCI.AAS.7.5b- Recognize that plants and animals depend on one another for the exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen; identify photosynthesis as the process by which plants transfer energy from the sun into materials needed for growth.


Science
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 7
Life Science
7 ) Use empirical evidence from patterns and data to demonstrate how changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem (e.g., deforestation, succession, drought, fire, disease, human activities, invasive species) can lead to shifts in populations.

Insight Unpacked Content
Scientific And Engineering Practices:
Analyzing and Interpreting Data
Crosscutting Concepts: Stability and Change
Disciplinary Core Idea: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
Students:
  • Use information gained from data patterns and analysis to demonstrate that any change in an ecosystem can lead to shifts in populations.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • Empirical evidence
  • Patterns
  • Data
  • Ecosystem
  • Populations
  • Physical components (e.g., water, air, temperature, sunlight, soil, etc.)
  • Biological components (e.g., plants, animals, etc.)
  • Phenomena (e.g., deforestation, succession, drought, fire, disease, human activities, invasive species, etc.)
Knowledge:
Students know:
  • Ecosystems are dynamic in nature and can change over time.
  • Disruptions to any physical or biological component of an ecosystem can lead to shifts in all its populations.
  • Changes in the physical or biological components of an ecosystem (e.g., rainfall, species introduction) can lead to changes in populations of species.
Skills:
Students are able to:
  • Demonstrate the scientific idea that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem can affect the populations living there.
  • Identify and describe the given evidence needed to demonstrate the scientific idea that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem can affect the populations living there.
  • Evaluate the given evidence, identifying the necessary and sufficient evidence for supporting the scientific idea.
  • Use reasoning to connect the evidence and support an explanation using patterns in the evidence to predict the causal relationship between physical and biological components of an ecosystem and changes in organism populations.
Understanding:
Students understand that:
  • Changes in the amount and availability of given resource may result in changes in the population of an organism.
  • Changes in the amount or availability of a resource may result in changes in the growth of individual organisms.
  • Resource availability drives competition among organisms, both within a population as well as between populations.
  • Resource availability may have an effect on a population's rate of reproduction.
AMSTI Resources:
AMSTI Module:
Investigating Biodiversity and Interdependence
Studying the Development and Reproduction of Organisms

NAEP Framework
NAEP Statement::
L8.8a: All organisms cause changes in the environment where they live.

NAEP Statement::
L8.8b: Some of these changes are detrimental to the organisms or other organisms, whereas others are beneficial.



Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.7.7- Interpret data to see how changes in an ecosystem (e.g., drought, forest fires) affect the animal population in an area.


Local/National Standards:

 

Primary Learning Objective(s):

The learner will identify greenhouse gases through web explorations.

The learner will create a model of the carbon cycle as a set of interactive notebook notes.

The learner will model the carbon cycle using ping pong balls to show the flow of carbon through the environment.

The learner will interpret graphs showing greenhouse gas production.

The learner will identify greenhouse gases and create solutions to the over production of the gases.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

 
 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

Greater than 120 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Technology Resources Needed:

Computer with internet connection for each student or pair of students

Background/Preparation:

The major concepts to be taught are greenhouse gases and the carbon cycle.  Teachers should be familiar with the terms global warming, climate change, and conservation.

This is a set of lessons designed to be taught over multiple days.

  Procedures/Activities: 

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


  Assessment  

Assessment Strategies

The final assessment is for students to write a letter to an elected official describing a problem with greenhouse gases and a possible solution.

Assessment Rubric for business letter to elected official

 

Acceleration:

 

Intervention:

Students with learning difficulties can be paired with another student during the web searches.

Students with dexterity issues can be assisted by having the interactive notes materials pre-cut for them.

The assessment can be modified by having students with learning difficulties work in a group to construct one letter with the assistance of a teaching aide or by being paired with another student.

 


View the Special Education resources for instructional guidance in providing modifications and adaptations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the Alabama Alternate Assessment.