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Poker Chip Model: Global Carbon Pools and Fluxes

Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, U.S. Department of Energy

This short activity provides a way to improve understanding of a frequently-published diagram of global carbon pools and fluxes. Students create a scaled 3-D visual of carbon reservoirs and the movement of carbon between reservoirs.

Activity takes one 50-minute class period. Additional materials required.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Activity supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 1 Performance Expectation, 8 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 6 Cross Cutting Concepts, 3 Science and Engineering Practices
High School: 3 Performance Expectations, 3 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 7 Cross Cutting Concepts, 6 Science and Engineering Practices

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

About Teaching Principle 2
Other materials addressing 2d
Climate is complex
About Teaching Climate Literacy
Other materials addressing Climate is complex

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:B) Designing investigations
Other materials addressing:
B) Designing investigations.
1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:C) Collecting information
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C) Collecting information.
1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:E) Organizing information
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E) Organizing information.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:B) Changes in matter
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B) Changes in matter.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.2 The Living Environment:C) Systems and connections
Other materials addressing:
C) Systems and connections.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.2 The Living Environment:D) Flow of matter and energy
Other materials addressing:
D) Flow of matter and energy.

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

  • This activity could be embedded in a unit on climate change or the carbon cycle and can be used to help students understand the concept of gigatons of carbon moving between reservoirs.

About the Science

  • Short activity illustrates the relative amounts of carbon stored in various reservoirs and the extent and direction of flux between them.
  • Comments from expert scientist: This resource provides a novel way to visualize the carbon cycle. The relative amounts of carbon in the different Earth system components are readily apparent. This resource requires students to question information supplied to them, which is an essential skill for scientists. Students will learn about the many processes through which carbon is transferred.

About the Pedagogy

  • This activity provides a visualization of a difficult carbon cycle concept to grasp - that of amounts of carbon moving between reservoirs.
  • Carbon cycle diagrams showing reservoirs and gigatons are often overwhelming for students. This activity will help students understand the concepts of reservoirs, gigatons, and fluxes.
  • Modeling activity is good, but what students make of the model is up to the teacher. No discussion questions are provided, so the teacher will have to design a way to wrap up this activity.
  • Easy to use. Good quality materials.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • No background information supplied for teachers.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:

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