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9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Chemistry, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Types

  • Lesson Plans
  • Worksheets
  • Activity - Classroom
  • Videos, 6 minutes, 20 seconds, CC, Subtitles

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PDF, YouTube Video

Earth Systems Activity

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  • In this activity, students will create a carbon cycle model to show the important role that carbon plays in making Earth habitable. 
  • Students will watch a video and read a text about geology and the carbon cycle then they will work in groups to make a model to explain how the carbon cycle regulates Earth's systems. 
  • The student worksheet will allow students to reflect on how the carbon cycle works. 
Teaching Tips


  • The video shows how carbon enters the atmosphere and can be removed through a series of chemical reactions.
  • Students will use critical thinking skills to understand the complex role that carbon plays in Earth's systems. 
  • Additional resources are linked in the Suggested Background Knowledge section of the Teacher Document.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The Teacher Document and the Student Materials files are located in the upper left-hand corner of the screen.
  • Students should be familiar with the geologic timescale and the greenhouse effect.
  • Students should understand that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas.


  • After the drawing activity, students could compare their models and note the similarities and differences between them.
  • Teachers could pair students who need support with more confident students as they construct their models and answer the questions from the worksheet.
  • Students could research and create a WebQuest, slideshow, or video that summarizes this lesson and showcases their carbon cycle model.
  • Other resources on this topic include this interactive model of the carbon cycle, this interactive diagram of the global carbon cycle, and this TED-Ed lesson on how carbon emissions cause climate change.
Scientist Notes
Students can explore this resource to gain insights into the carbon cycle, the pattern, mechanism, and processes that influence the behavior of the climate system. There is no contradiction and the resource is recommended.
  • English Language Arts
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • 9-10.RST.5 Analyze the structure of the relationships among concepts in a text, including relationships among key terms.
      • 9-10.RST.7 Translate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text into visual form and translate information expressed visually or mathematically into words.
    • Writing: History, Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • 9-10.WHST.9 Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
  • Science
    • ESS1: Earth's Place in the Universe
      • HS.ESS1.5 Evaluate evidence of the past and current movements of continental and oceanic crust and the theory of plate tectonics to explain the ages of crustal rocks.
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • HS.ESS2.2 Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth’s surface can create feedbacks that cause changes to other Earth systems.
      • HS.ESS2.4 Use a model to describe how variations in the flow of energy into and out of Earth’s systems result in changes in climate.
      • HS.ESS2.6 Develop a quantitative model to describe the cycling of carbon among the hydrosphere, atmosphere, geosphere, and biosphere.
      • HS.ESS2.7 Construct an argument based on evidence about the simultaneous coevolution of Earth’s systems and life on Earth.
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