In this interactive, regionally-relevant carbon cycle game, students are challenged to understand the role of carbon in global climate change. They imagine that they are carbon molecules and travel via different processes through carbon reservoirs on the Colorado Plateau (the Four Corners area of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah). This game can be adapted to other regions.
Bell Telephone Science Hour produced this video in 1958, explaining how the production of CO2 from factories and automobiles is causing the atmosphere to warm, melting the polar ice caps, and causing the sea level to rise.
In this activity, students use Google Earth and information from several websites to investigate some of the consequences of climate change in polar regions, including the shrinking of the ice cap at the North Pole, disintegration of ice shelves, melting of Greenland, opening of shipping routes, effects on polar bears, and possible secondary effects on climate in other regions due to changes in ocean currents. Students learn to use satellite and aerial imagery, maps, graphs, and statistics to interpret trends accompanying changes in the Earth system.
This video is accompanied by supporting materials including background essay and discussion questions. The focus is on changes happening to permafrost in the Arctic landscape, with Alaska Native peoples and Western scientists discussing both the causes of thawing and its impact on the ecosystem. The video shows the consequences of erosion, including mudslides and inland lakes being drained of water. An Inuit expresses his uncertainty about the ultimate effect this will have on his community and culture.
Two graphs from the NASA Climate website illustrate the change in global surface temperature relative to 1951-1980 average temperatures. The NASA plot is annotated with temperature-impacting historic events, which nicely connect an otherwise challenging graphic to real-world events.
In this activity, students investigate how sea levels might rise when ice sheets and ice caps melt by constructing a pair of models and seeing the effects of ice melt in two different situations. Students should use their markers to predict the increase of water in each box before the ice melts.
In this audio slideshow, an ecologist from the University of Florida describes the radiocarbon dating technique that scientists use to determine the amount of carbon within the permafrost of the Arctic tundra. Understanding the rate of carbon released as permafrost thaws is necessary to understand how this positive feedback mechanism is contributing to climate change that may further increase global surface temperatures.
This interactive shows the different components of the ocean biological pump, i.e., how carbon in the form of either plankton or particles moves into the ocean's depths. It illustrates the situation at the surface, 0-100 meters, 100-500 meters, and below 500 meters.
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.