Dinosaur Breath - Learning about the Carbon Cycle

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.

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Lauren Cooper
Malinda Schaefer Zarske
Janet Yowell
TeachEngineering - Integrated Teaching and Learning Program, CU Boulder

Notes From Our Reviewers

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Teaching Tips

Teaching Tips

Educator needs to strengthen the piece that suggests mitigation strategies.

The part of the activity that extends student learning from the carbon cycle to global warming, human impact, greenhouse gas emission and finally mitigation strategies is not developed very strongly and will need additional effort by educator.

Comment from expert scientist: A simple diagram of the cycle or cycles portrayed in this exercise would greatly clarify the activity.

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