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Database Provider


TERC, Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College (SERC)


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Earth and Space Sciences, Mathematics

Resource Types

  • Activity - Classroom
  • Interactive Media
  • Experiments
  • Videos, 1 minute, 51 seconds
  • Videos, 4 minutes, 9 seconds, CC, Subtitles
  • Assessments
  • Videos, 3 minutes, 7 seconds, CC, Subtitles
  • Videos, 4 minutes, 48 seconds
  • Videos, 3 minutes, 21 seconds, CC, Subtitles
  • Videos, 7 minutes, 15 seconds, CC, Subtitles
  • Videos, 2 minutes, 42 seconds, CC, Subtitles
  • Videos, 1 minute, 43 seconds, CC, Subtitles
  • Videos, 3 minutes, 11 seconds, CC, Subtitles
  • Videos, 2 minutes, 41 seconds, CC, Subtitles

Regional Focus



PDF, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel

Living in a Carbon World Lab

Ask a Question

  • In this four-part lab, students will perform data collection, measurements, a chemical experiment, and explore graphs and videos to understand how and why carbon atoms are important to living organisms and global systems.
  • The four sections include content about trees, carbon storage, carbon compounds, and fossil fuels.
Teaching Tips


  • This is an active and hands-on lab that incorporates an outdoor activity.
  • Key questions and learning objectives are outlined. 
  • The resource is easy for students to navigate. 

Additional Prerequisites

  • Teachers should review the summary and all of the sections prior to the lab.
  • Gather materials ahead of time for the chemistry experiment, including coffee filters, chalk, vinegar, and limewater.


  • The activity about measuring the carbon in trees will get students outdoors and will get them actively participating in data collection.
  • Biology classes can connect this lab to photosynthesis, cellular respiration, and combustion lessons.
  • Chemistry classes can focus on the atomic structures, chemical reactions, and pH properties of the experiments.
  • Each section can be completed independently and can be added to lessons as activities or extensions.
  • Physics classes can connect to part D of the lab that explains combustion and the release of energy from breaking bonds, or part C that explains the energy required or released from biological processes.

Scientist Notes

There is no contradiction in this resource and the resource is recommended to teach students the pathway of carbon from the atmosphere to trees and to analyze and estimate the rate of carbon sequestration from trees.

  • English Language Arts
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • 9-10.RST.3 Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks, attending to special cases or exceptions defined in the text.
  • Science
    • 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.ESS2.6 Develop a quantitative model to describe the cycling of carbon among the hydrosphere, atmosphere, geosphere, and biosphere.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS.ESS3.4 Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
      • HS.ESS3.6 Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity (i.e., climate change).
    • LS1: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
      • HS.LS1.5 Use a model to illustrate how photosynthesis transforms light energy into stored chemical energy.
      • HS.LS1.6 Construct and revise an explanation based on evidence for how carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen from sugar molecules may combine with other elements to form amino acids and/or other large carbon-based molecules.
      • HS.LS1.7 Use a model to illustrate that cellular respiration is a chemical process whereby the bonds of food molecules and oxygen molecules are broken and the bonds in new compounds are formed, resulting in a net transfer of energy.
    • PS1: Matter and Its Interactions
      • HS.PS1.6 Refine the design of a chemical system by specifying a change in conditions that would produce increased amounts of products at equilibrium.
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