The Carbon Cycle Game
Teacher - Honors Earth/Space Science, AP Environmental Science, Honors Chemistry
Evergreen High School, Evergreen, Colorado
Students develop concept maps of the carbon cycle through a die-rolling game that simulates carbon reservoirs and fluxes.
I designed this activity for use in 9th grade Earth Systems Science and AP Environmental Science Classes. It could be used in Biology classes as well.
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered:
How the activity is situated in the course:
National or State Education Standards addressed by this activity?:
Colorado State Standards (High School):
Physical Science 3. Matter can change form through chemical or nuclear reactions abiding by the laws of conservation of mass and energy.
Life Science 1. Matter tends to be cycled within an ecosystem, while energy is transformed and eventually exits an ecosystem.
Earth Science 6. The interaction of Earth's surface with water, air, gravity, and biological activity causes physical and chemical changes.
Climate Literacy Principles:
EP 2.) Climate is regulated by complex interactions among components of the Earth System. d. Biogeochemical Cycles of greenhouse gases/Carbon Cycle: The abundance of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is controlled by biogeochemical cycles that continually move these components between the ocean, land, life and atmospheric reservoirs. The abundance of carbon in the atmosphere is reduced through seafloor accumulation of marine sediments and accumulation of plant biomass and is increased through deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels as well as through other processes.
Content/concepts goals for this activity:
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity:
Other skills goals for this activity:
Description of the activity/assignment
In Round 2, the stations have changed to represent the modern carbon cycle, involving the burning of fossil fuels and modern agricultural practices. Students move through the stations the same way they did in Round 1 and when they are done, they make a new concept map of their route. They then write a paragraph comparing the two concept maps.
Determining whether students have met the goals
Download teaching materials and tips
Activity Description/Assignment: Student Handout for Carbon Cycle Game (Microsoft Word 126kB Aug4 11)
Instructors Notes: Teacher's Notes for Carbon Cycle Game (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 138kB Aug4 11)
- Solution Set:
Solutions will vary with each student.
- Reservoir Cards (Microsoft Word 42kB Aug4 11)
For further exploration of the carbon cycle, see this carbon cycle activity from the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) program.