The carbon cycle
There is a large degree of cross-over between chemistry and biology with this topic and to fully understand the cycling of carbon, prior knowledge of photosynthesis, respiration, microbes, decomposition, the formation of fossils from organic matter and the products of burning fossil fuels is necessary before students can begin to link these together. This list provides a range of activities for teaching this area of the curriculum.
Visit the secondary science webpage to access all lists: www.nationalstemcentre.org.uk/secondaryscience
Links and Resources
This resource provides a highly structured approach to building up an understanding of the sequences within the carbon cycle, including an understanding of the different timescales involved.
It uses arctic food chains as the basis of the activities with a short video to bring the idea to life. The carbon cycle sequence document will be useful for those teaching outside their specialism.
The carbon cycle can be difficult for students to grasp and using MolyMods can help to make the concept more concrete. The carbon cycle has moved from KS4 and some parts of this resource are very much aimed at that age group. However, the idea of using MolyMods to see how carbon dioxide and water can form glucose via photosynthesis can be useful for visualising the movement of carbon from the atmosphere into the food chain.
Students will enjoy the carbon cycle game which is explained in a short video clip, wrongly named the atmoshpere game. Playing the game, students will see the carbon moving between resevoirs in the carbon cycle. When they are happy with this, they can see how changes in the cycle due to human activity can lead to the build up of carbon dioxide in the atsmosphere.