Seeing the Carbon Cycleby: Cheryl A. Engle-Belknap, David J. Welty, Catherine Cramer, Kim Frashure, Robert Chen, Pamela Drouin, and Daniel Repeta
edited by: National Science Teachers Association

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The most important biochemical reactions for life in the ocean and on Earth are cellular respiration and photosynthesis. These two reactions play a central role in the carbon cycle. The ocean-based carbon cycle is highly relevant to today's students because of its key role in global warming. This experiment allows middle school students to observe the influence of the carbon cycle on algae growth, explore experimental design, collect data, and draw a conclusion.

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Reviews (2)
  • on Fri Feb 15, 2013 9:50 AM

This article describes the set-up and continuation of an experiment that helps students actually view aspects of the carbon cycle. Closterium algae are grown in the classroom within a sealed container. There are light bulbs that turn on and off to show the light and dark cycle of plants. This experiment shows photosynthesis and respiration of the algae. This is an interesting classroom activity but it does require lots of equipment and time.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Sat May 14, 2011 7:14 PM

The article presents a nice model to show students the importance of CO2 to plant growth. However, the article stated it would teach students the carbon cycle and this it really doesn't do. It shows only a limited portion of the carbon cycle - that plants take up carbon, nothing else. After reading the article I wondered if after the initial demonstration student inquiry could be added in the form of additional experiments on the remaining algae, like what would be the effect of adding fertilizers like that that run off the fields? Or could a BOD meter be used in the liquids to see if any of the O2 was absorbed? As written, this is simply a demonstration lab for students to observe a teacher experiment to see what happens. With imagination a teacher could turn this lab into a more inquiry lesson that shows more steps than what is presented here. This could also be a good activity for elementary to show students about photosynthesis.

Tina Harris  (Fairmount, IN)
Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN)

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