Initial Publication Date: December 12, 2005

Name of Resource: What Is the Carbon Cycle?
Climate Change Theme: Carbon
Sponsoring Organization: UCAR
Intended use: Background Material, Learning Activity
Intended audience: Educators and Learners
Average Review Ratings (Poor to Excellent, 1-5 scale): 4 stars

Description: Activity in which students brainstorm and map the carbon cycle: sources, sinks and release agents. Seems like it would be a dull activity. The recommended extension of making collages illustrating the cycle using newspapers and magazines is slightly more exciting. (CM)

Summary of Reviews

Reviewer: Carrie Morrill 4 stars
Comments: Here is another possible extension to make this activity more exciting: I once saw a water cycle game that students loved and that could be easily converted into a carbon cycle game. Set up stations around the room representing carbon reservoirs (ocean, atmosphere, rocks, plants, animals, etc). At each station there is a die and on each side of the die is another reservoir that carbon can flow into. For example, at the plant station there might be "animal", "rock", and "atmosphere" , and "stay in plant" on the die. For stations with a long residence time, such as "rock", several sides of the die should say to stay in that reservoir. The students could help to define the stations and the sides of the dice based on their discussion and mapping of the carbon cycle. Then, play the game. Assign students to the various stations to begin. Everyone rolls the die at their station and then goes to the station indicated. The teacher tells everyone to roll the die again and go to their new station, etc.
Read entire review: link text (Acrobat (PDF) 63kB Jun21 05)

Reviewer: Kirsten Butcher 3 stars
Comments: Background information is relatively brief. Educators without prior knowledge/experience on the topic may find that they need more preparation before leading the activity. The success of the activity appears to draw heavily upon educator ability to effectively guide student thinking and discussion.
Read entire review: link text (Acrobat (PDF) 46kB Jun21 05)

Reviewer: Jack Ganse 4 stars
Comments: These types of activities benefit from a classroom supply of old magazines that can be cut up for pictures (old National Geographics are terrific for this). To make a math/science connection with older students, use actual carbon cycle data with the activity (cycle quantities and cycle times). Look for carbon cycle animations on the internet, or have your tech savvy students animate their own carbon cycle using Flash, for example.
Read entire review: link text (Acrobat (PDF) 54kB Jun21 05)

Reviewer: Ellen DeBacker 3 stars
Comments: Basically a discussion activity, which would be difficult to lead without more information from the site or a really good understanding of the carbon cycle on the part of the teacher. The information is not very clear, with questions coming to mind about the ocean's role (other that supporting the life in it) in the carbon cycle. That piece was alluded to but not covered or shown in the graphic of the carbon cycle. I had more questions at the end of the reading than understanding of the process. It would help to have a bibliography of places to go for more information. I am also not sure that the activity would help further a students understanding of the process any better than a straight forward lecture followed by the questions. IF the teacher had a strong understanding, the process would probably work. Read entire review: link text (Acrobat (PDF) 45kB Jun21 05)