Hydrogeology > Hydrogeology, Soils, Geochemistry 2013 > Teaching Activities > Carbon in the Oceans

Carbon in the Oceans

Amy Townsend-Small, University of Cincinnati

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This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This page first made public: Jun 6, 2013


In this assignment, students in small groups are asked to interpret and explain a figure depicting one aspect of marine carbon biogeochemistry. Then a representative of each group explains the figure to the class.



It is an undergraduate mid-level course in Biogeochemistry, offered jointly to students majoring in Environmental Studies or Geology.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Interpreting scientific figures
Understanding the major processes in the global carbon cycle
A preliminary understanding of marine science

How the activity is situated in the course

As a stand-alone exercise to break up the endless series of professor-led lectures


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Understand how anthropogenic activities have affected ocean biogeochemistry

Understand the major controls on carbon cycling in the oceans

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Analysis of data
Interpretation of scientific figures
Integration of physical, biological, and chemical concepts

Other skills goals for this activity

Oral presentation
Working in groups

Description and Teaching Materials

There is one item attached: a document with a series of worksheets. One sheet for each group.

C in the Oceans Exercise (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 1.5MB Apr29 13)

Teaching Notes and Tips


Each student who participates gets a participation point. The instructor and other students will give feedback on each group's presentation.

References and Resources

Our text book is Global Environment: Water, Air, and Geochemical Cycles by Berner and Berner (2nd ed).

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