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Paleontological Research Institution


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics

Resource Type

  • Videos, 6 minutes, 21 seconds, CC, Subtitles

Regional Focus



YouTube Video

Respiration: Reuse, Recycle

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  • This video describes the global carbon cycle and demonstrates a simple experiment to measure respiration and photosynthesis.
Teaching Tips


  • The video begins with a diagram and explanation of the carbon cycle and how humans disrupt the balance.
  • The experiment is easy to understand and simple to recreate with the appropriate probes.

Additional Prerequisites

  • There are specific materials the teacher would need to get ahead of time to recreate the experiment, consider borrowing a carbon dioxide probe from a local university or citizen-science provider.
  • Teachers and students can watch this video first to learn how to make the flux chambers.


  • Students can create and label their own diagrams for the carbon cycle and explain how the burning of fossil fuels can disrupt the balance.
  • The teacher can pause the video at 3 minutes, 41 seconds to have students write their predictions and then update them after the video.
  • This video about cellular respiration and photosynthesis can be used in biology classes and applied to a number of lessons, particularly regarding how adding additional carbon from fossil fuels throws the system out of balance.
  • History classes could research the scientists that first discovered the heat-trapping ability of carbon dioxide and those who first discovered photosynthesis.
  • Other resources related to the carbon cycle include this video about how carbon dioxide gets into and out of the atmosphere, this game to help students visualize the carbon cycle, and this interactive book chapter with resources and data on short and long-term carbon cycles.
Scientist Notes
This resource uses a homemade flux chamber and CO2 monitor to show the difference in CO2 concentrations between two scenarios; a flux chamber where photosynthesis is occurring and a flux chamber were photosynthesis is not occurring. The experiment accurately displays the relationship between photosynthesis and respiration in plants. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Mathematics
    • Data Reasoning and Probability (9-12)
      • HS.DR.C.8 Identify appropriate ways to summarize and then represent the distribution of univariate and bivariate data multiple ways with graphs and/or tables. Use technology to present data that supports interpretation of tabular and graphical representations.
  • Science
    • ESS2: Earth's 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.ESS3.6 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.LS1.7 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.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • HS.LS2.5 Develop a model to illustrate the role of photosynthesis and cellular respiration in the cycling of carbon among the biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere.
  • Related Resources


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