Student Exploration: Carbon Cycle
Vocabulary: atmosphere, biomass, biosphere, carbon reservoir, carbon sink, fossil fuel,
geosphere, greenhouse gas, hydr... [Show More] osphere, lithosphere, photosynthesis
Prior Knowledge Questions (Do these BEFORE using the Gizmo.)
In the process of photosynthesis, plants take in carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and
water (H2O) from the soil. Using the energy of sunlight, plants build molecules of glucose
(C6H12O6) and oxygen (O2). Make sure all of your answers are in a different color.
1. How do plants on Earth affect the amount of carbon in Earth’s atmosphere?
Plants take in carbon dioxide and process it into oxygen.
2. Animals eat plants and produce carbon dioxide and water. How do animals affect the
amount of carbon in Earth’s atmosphere?
They eat plants that process carbon dioxide and when they eat theses plants, there are fewer plants that
can process the carbon dioxide.
The Carbon Cycle Gizmo allows you to follow the many
paths an atom of carbon can take through Earth’s systems.
To begin, notice the black carbon atom in the Atmospheric
CO2 area, highlighted in yellow. The glowing blue areas
represent possible locations the carbon atom could go next.
1. From Earth’s atmosphere, where can the carbon atom go
next? Oceanic Co2, land plants, and exposed rock
2. Click on Land plants and read the description (at the bottom of the simulation). How did the
carbon atom get from the atmosphere to a plant? Plants use energy from the sun for
photosynthesis. Most of the oxygen is released.
3. Select Land animals. How did the carbon atom get from land plants into the animal (read the
description )? Land animals consume plants for energy.
4. Select Atmospheric CO2. How did the carbon atom get from land animals back to the
atmosphere? They release carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere through cellular
Activity A: Carbon
Get the Gizmo ready:
● Click Reset.
Introduction: Earth can be divided into four systems. The atmosphere is the air above Earth’s
surface. The hydrosphere is composed of all of Earth’s water. The geosphere is the rocky,
non-living part of Earth. The biospher [Show Less]