This is a long-term inquiry activity in which students investigate locations they believe harbor cellulose-digesting microbes, collect samples, isolate them on selective media, and screen them for cellulase activity. These novel microbes may be useful for the production of cellulosic ethanol. In the process they learn about plating techniques, serial dilutions, symbiotic relationships and enzyme specificity. Two methods are provided, one focusing on isolation of pure microbial strains, the other focusing on finding symbiotic communities of microbes.

A simplified representation of the terrestrial carbon cycle side by side with the ocean carbon cycle. Fluxes and reservoirs expressed in gigatons are included.

This activity illustrates the carbon cycle using an age-appropriate hook, and it includes thorough discussion and hands-on experimentation. Students learn about the geological (ancient) carbon cycle; they investigate the role of dinosaurs in the carbon cycle, and the eventual storage of carbon in the form of chalk. Students discover how the carbon cycle has been occurring for millions of years and is necessary for life on Earth. Finally, they may extend their knowledge to the concept of global warming and how engineers are working to understand the carbon cycle and reduce harmful carbon dioxide emissions.

This static visualization from Global Warming Art depicts the chemical characteristics of eight greenhouse gas molecules - carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), water (H2O), ozone (O3), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), dichlorodifluoromethane (CFC-12), and trichlorofluoromethane (CFC-11).

This hands-on activity explores the driving forces behind global thermohaline circulation.

This video illustrates how atmospheric particles, or aerosols (such as black carbon, sulfates, dust, fog), can affect the energy balance of Earth regionally, and the implications for surface temperature warming and cooling.

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