EarthLabs for Educators > Climate and the Carbon Cycle > Lab 4: Deforestation and the Carbon Cycle

Lab 4: Deforestation and the Carbon Cycle

The lab activity described here was developed by Candace Dunlap of TERC for the EarthLabs project.

Summary and Learning Objectives

In Part A of this Lab, students will learn about the effects of deforestation on the carbon cycle, climate and the environment. In Part B, students use the Global Forest Cover data tool developed by the World Resources Institute to conduct their own research on changes in forest cover.

After completing this investigation, students will be able to:

  • Describe the relationship between forests, climate and the carbon cycle;
  • Describe how deforestation causes changes in the carbon cycle;
  • Describe the reasons for deforestation; and
  • Use the Global Forest Cover tool to research and keep track of changes in forest cover over time.
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Overview and Teaching Materials

Detailed overview of what students will do in each lab activity, how long it will take, and what materials are required to complete the lab.

In Part A: Students use videos and satellite images to investigate the impact of deforestation on forest cover and changes in the carbon cycle. They use a time series interactive developed by NASA to analyze forest cover changes in the Amazon Rainforest and its affect on the Amazon forest to remain a strong carbon sink. Next, they learn how deforestation, combustion and decomposition caused by slash and burn farming methods all work together to increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Time estimate: 1-2 50 minute class periods

In Part B: Students will use the Global Forest Watch tool from the World Resources Institute to develop their own original research question on changes in forest cover. They will access real time data, images and other information from the tool to use in a presentation and/or written report.

Time estimate 1-2 50 minute class periods

Printable Materials

Download and print files needed for each lab activity, including images, data tables, and Stop and Think questions.
To download one of the PDF or Word files below, right-click (control-click on a Mac) the link and choose "Save File As" or "Save Link As."

  • Stop and Think Questions


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    and
    Lab 4 Stop and Think Questions PDF


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  • Suggested Answers


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    to Stop and Think Questions
NOTE: There are no Stop and Think questions for Lab 4B

Teaching Notes and Tips

General recommendations for classroom implementation as well as guidelines and facilitation tips for leading class discussions.

General Recommendations:

  • If unfamiliar with a hands-on activity in this Lab, consider a practice run before implementation. The Global Forest Watch tool
  • Print out any paper-based materials before starting the lab.
  • Have students keep a lab notebook or journal to record important notes, questions, data and findings.
  • Consider FLIPPING parts of the lessons. This will save you class time and reduce the need to have computer access in your classroom.
  • Discussion questions, Checking In questions and Stop and Think questions can be adapted and used in a variety of ways based on teachers' needs. For example, some questions might make great "DO Now" activities as students enter the classroom or great "exit quizzes" as students leave.
  • You may want to spend time projecting graphs and important images on the board and going over the elements (e.g. units of measure, variables on axis, trends, color schemes etc) with them.
  • The Global Forest Watch tool in Lab 4B is best used on a computer as opposed to a tablet. This tool can be used in many different ways so its a good idea to take time to familiarize yourself with everything this tool can do.
  • In many of the Optional Extensions sections throughout the carbon cycle module, students are prompted to "research the latest research" on important carbon cycle topics pertinent to the lab section they are working in. Rich conversations can ensue when students go to ScienceDaily and/or Phys.org - News and Articles on Science and Technology to find abstracts of new research that supports, contradicts or enhances current understanding on how the carbon cycle works.

Student Notebooks

Suggestions for how to use Student Notebooks for Lab 4.

Student notebooks are optional. Here are just a few suggestions for what to include in student notebooks for Lab 4:

  • Have students write down the learning objectives for Lab 4.
  • Have students record answers to all Stop and Think questions.
  • Have students record answers to Discussion questions.
  • Have students record diagrams they have drawn, with labels and a short description of what the diagram represents.
  • Have students record important hands-on or minds-on activity components. This could include research questions, data, tables, observations, drawings, graphs, and conclusions.
  • Have students write down any questions they still have about the content covered in this lab.


Assessment

There are several options for assessment of student understanding of material introduced in this lab. Choose from the following list, or create your own assessments.

There are several options for assessment of student understanding of material introduced in this lab. Choose from the following list, or create your own assessments.

  1. Assess student understanding of topics addressed in this investigation by grading their written responses to the Stop and Think questions or by using Stop and Think questions as part of whole-class or small group discussions.
  2. Written Test for
    Lab 4


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    (Answer
    Key


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    )
  3. Many lab sections have a "learning assessment" component. While carrying out the learning assessment activity, students are learning important concepts and demonstrating their understanding in a performance assessment. Labs 4A and 4B have performance assessments.
  4. Anything that students create such as graphs, diagrams,and conclusions would serve as good assessments.

Science Standards

Lab 4 supports following Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Science and Engineering Practices

3. Planning and Carrying Out Investigations

4. Analyzing and Interpreting Data


Disciplinary Core Ideas

ESS3.D Global Climate Change

ESS3.A Natural Resources

LS2.A Ecosystem Functioning Dynamics and Resilience


Cross-Cutting Concepts

1. Patterns

2. Cause and Effect

3. Scale, Proportion and Quantity

7. Stability and Change

Examples of how students engage with the standards:



Go to Next Generation Science Standards.

Additional Resources

Explore background information and content extensions related to Lab 4.

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