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


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Chemistry, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Types

  • Activity - Classroom
  • Articles and Websites
  • Assessments
  • Interactive Media
  • Videos, 1 minute, 23 seconds
  • Videos, 5 minutes, 27 seconds
  • Videos, 3 minutes, 3 seconds
  • Videos, 5 minutes, 35 seconds, CC, Subtitles
  • Videos, 2 minutes, 25 seconds
  • Videos, 55 seconds

Regional Focus



PDF, Microsoft Word

Oceans and the Carbon Cycle Lab

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  • In this two-part lab, students will learn how carbon cycles in the ocean, the role of phytoplankton in the carbon cycle, and how the carbon and nitrogen cycles are connected.

Teaching Tips


  • The resources used in this lab are excellent and will help students understand the content.
  • Extensions and a teacher's key are available to assist with implementation.

Additional Prerequisites

  • You may need to zoom out to see all of the features on the Wood's Hole Oceanographic Institute's interactive cycles. You can hold Shift and tap the minus key a couple of times to quickly do this on most computers.
  • You must sign in to get access to the teacher's key.


  • This lab contains a number of short videos and animations to help with student comprehension, which may be especially useful for younger students or those unfamiliar with microbes and nutrient cycles.
  • Consider having students watch some of the videos as homework and then review in class together.
  • Biology and chemistry classes can utilize this lab for lessons about the carbon cycle, nitrogen cycle, thermohaline circulation patterns, global biogeochemical cycles, producers, photosynthesis, or net primary production.
  • This lab would be a great choice for marine science clubs, environmental science classes, or microbiology classes.

Scientist Notes
The resource is comprehensive, especially the NASA video is appropriate, and it is recommended to help students explore the interaction of phytoplanktons in carbon removal and uptake.
  • 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.ESS3.5 Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth’s systems.
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