The carbon cycle is very important for the health of the planet. It provides plants with the ingredients they need to create food and the oxygen we need to breath. Carbon is naturally found in the soil and the ocean floor. It is also found in fossils which helps scientists identify how old their specimens are. It is an important chemical for all areas of life on land and in the sea. Too much of it, however, can be dangerous.
Humans are putting too much extra carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. Fossil fuels give us energy, like the gas that runs our cars or the power that runs our factories.
Usually, the ocean absorbs some of the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. When there is too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the ocean cannot absorb it all and it gets stuck as a gas around the earth. This carbon dioxide creates a blanket covering the earth and causes it to slowly get warmer. This is called the Greenhouse Gas Effect.
Humans created the pollution problem, and we can be the ones to solve it. There are little actions that everyone can take in their daily lives to have an impact on making the planet healthier.
Have the students go on a scavenger hunt to identify all the things in their daily life that either produces carbon emissions or relies on carbon to be created/power. You may do this search in the classroom. Some of the sources they may identify are:
- Transportation - getting too and from school in a car or on the bus releases carbon into the air.
- Electricity - relies on carbon-driven power plants in order to run
- Importing/Exporting: foods and goods brought in from overseas rely on carbon emissions from the boats and planes in order to get to the international markets they are sold at.
Discuss with the students first what barriers humans face with making a change. It is easy to say that we should stop driving cars, but could we actually do it? Who would be impacted, in both positive and negative ways?
Individually or in pairs/groups, have the students brainstorm one solution to reduce the amount of fossil fuels humans burn. You could also divide the students into groups and assign them one of the areas that most impact carbon emissions - and then they could think-pair-share afterward.
Some example solutions you may guide them to are:
- Biking or walking instead of driving the car wherever possible.
- Buying local food and produce rather than items that are shipped from other countries.
- Turn off your lights and electronic devices when you are not using them.
- Rather than changing your thermostat in your house, layer up when it is cold or use a fan when it is hot.
- Swap old incandescent light bulbs for the new compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). They use only 25% as much electricity to give the same light. They last ten times longer.
- Investing in alternative sources of energy.
- Engineering new products that are more energy efficient or use clean energy (use their imagination).
Next, have the students create a poster that will inform their fellow students about their proposed solution to the carbon problem. If possible, have the students share their ideas with other classes in the school.
Students may then post their findings and solutions in a blog on their Ocean Literacy Course. Students may post a photo of their poster in the blog, or in the gallery of their course.
To understand how excess carbon is being put into the environment by humans and to come up with creative solutions to help reduce the negative impact that burning fossil fuels have on the environment
Science 2: Materials can be changed through physical and chemical processes.
Science 3: All matter is made of particles.
Science 4: Matter has mass, takes up space, and can change phase.
Science 4: Energy can be transformed
Science 5: Machines are devices that transfer force and energy.
Science 5: Earth materials change as they move through the rock cycle and can be used as natural resources.
Questioning and Predicting
- Demonstrate a sustained curiosity about a scientific topic or problem of personal interest
- Make observations in familiar or unfamiliar contexts
- Identify questions to answer or problems to solve through scientific inquiry
Processing and Analyzing Data and Information
- Experience and interpret the local environment
- Demonstrate an openness to new ideas and consideration of alternatives
- Identify some of the social, ethical, and environmental implications of the findings from their own and others’ investigations
Applying and Innovating
- Contribute to care for self, others, and community through personal or collaborative approaches
- Co-operatively design projects
- Transfer and apply learning to new situations
- Generate and introduce new or refined ideas when problem solving
- Communicate ideas, explanations, and processes in a variety of ways
- Express and reflect on personal, shared, or others’ experiences of place
- physical ways of changing materials
- chemical ways of changing materials
- energy is needed for life
- matter is anything that has mass and takes up space
- atoms are building blocks of matter
transfer of thermal energy
- Energy has various forms
- devices that transform energy
- properties of simple machines and their force effects
- Machines that are constructed
- Power - the rate at which energy is transferred
- local types of earth materials
- the rock cycle
- the nature of sustainable practices around BC's resources
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