Step 1: Ask Questions

In this step of the unit, students identify and discuss the issue or problem to be studied and begin to gather background information.

Step 1.1 - Temperature and CO2 Concentration in the Atmosphere over the Past 400,000 years

Featured Resource - Temperature and CO2 Concentrations

Type: Static Visualization

Time Required = 20 minutes

Summary: Students analyze long-term climate date to examine the relationship between CO2 concentration and global temperature change over different temporal time scales.

Teaching Strategy and Directions
  1. Show students this resource, a graph depicting carbon dioxide and temperature increases over the past 800,00 years.

    2. Explain that the red lines represent changes in temperature over time and the blue lines represent changes in carbon dioxide over time.

    3. Ask students what patterns and relationships they can see in the data. What questions arise when considering the pattern in the data? What data might be required to answer those questions?

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Step 1.2 - CO2 Basics of the Carbon Cycle and Greenhouse Effect

Featured Resource - Basics of the Carbon Cycle and the Greenhouse Effect

Type: Reading

Time Required = 25 minutes

Summary: Students read an article from NOAA to prepare them to play the Carbon Cycle Game.

Teaching Strategy and Directions
  1. Students read the article and respond to questions. Sample questions to use with this activity:

    1. Differentiate between a greenhouse Gas (GHG) and a non-GHG. Name the four most important GHGs.
    2. Name the three main reservoirs carbon atoms travel to and from in the carbon cycle.
    3. Name the two major processes that move carbon dioxide between biosphere (plants) and the atmosphere.

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Step 1.3 - The Carbon Cycle Game

Featured Resource - The Carbon Cycle Game

Type: Interactive Visualization

Time Required = 40 minutes

Summary: In the Carbon Cycle game, students travel through the carbon cycle and attempt to get to all the places that carbon is stored in the interactive map.
Teaching Strategy and Directions 1. Introduce the game to students. Have them read the scenario/directions on the site or read them aloud:

You are a carbon atom.

For millions of years you were underground in fossil fuels. Now, you have been released into the atmosphere as humans burn fuels. Did you know that 5000 megatons of carbon are released into the atmosphere as fossil fuels are burned each year?

In this game, you will travel the carbon cycle. Your objective is to get to all the places that carbon is stored along this map. Earn extra points by correctly answering the carbon challenge questions at the yellow stars.

2. Have students take a screen shot of their results when they have completed the game.

3. Have a discussion with students on the different pathways they encountered on their journey as a carbon atom.

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