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Carbon Cycle Animation

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

This animation depicts the carbon cycle in a fashion that is suited for younger audiences. The video discusses how carbon enters and exits the environment through both natural and human-driven ways.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Animation supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 1 Disciplinary Core Idea
High School: 3 Disciplinary Core Ideas

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Greenhouse effect
About Teaching Principle 2
Other materials addressing 2c
Biogeochemical cycles of greenhouse gases / Carbon cycle
About Teaching Principle 2
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Equilibrium and feedback loops in climate system
About Teaching Principle 2
Other materials addressing 2f
Climate is complex
About Teaching Climate Literacy
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Evidence is that human impacts are playing an increasing role in climate change
About Teaching Principle 4
Other materials addressing 4f
Climate change has consequences
About Teaching Climate Literacy
Other materials addressing Climate change has consequences

Energy Literacy

Fossil and bio fuels are organic matter that contain energy captured from sunlight.
Other materials addressing:
4.3 Fossil and bio fuels contain energy captured from sunlight.
Movement of matter between reservoirs is driven by Earth's internal and external sources of energy.
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2.5 Energy moves between reservoirs.
Greenhouse gases affect energy flow through the Earth system.
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2.6 Greenhouse gases affect energy flow.

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Animation would have to complement existing curriculum materials as none are provided on website.
  • Could either be used to introduce the carbon cycle or to review key ideas.
  • More supporting materials that specifically align with animation would be recommended.

About the Science

  • This video defines and clarifies what carbon is and its cycle in the Earth system in a manner that is suited for younger audiences but can be accessible to many learners.
  • Comment from expert scientist: The carbon cycle video is an accurate account of current knowledge regarding changes in the carbon cycle due to anthropogenic activities and does it in a simple way, with analogies, that kids can understand without going into quantitative data.

About the Pedagogy

  • The graphics, text, and narration included in the video work well together to lead to comprehension of a complex topic.
  • The video will help to teach about the how the carbon-cycle is being impacted by human activity.
  • Uses a bathtub analogy that could be helpful for students to conceptualize why the carbon cycle is being altered.
  • No supporting educational classroom materials or activities online.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Animation supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 1

MS-ESS3.D1:Human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (global warming). 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.

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 3

HS-ESS2.D2:Gradual atmospheric changes were due to plants and other organisms that captured carbon dioxide and released oxygen.

HS-ESS2.D3:Changes in the atmosphere due to human activity have increased carbon dioxide concentrations and thus affect climate.

HS-LS2.B3:Photosynthesis and cellular respiration are important components of the carbon cycle, in which carbon is exchanged among the biosphere, atmosphere, oceans, and geosphere through chemical, physical, geological, and biological processes.

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