Carbon Connections

The Carbon Cycle and the Science of Climate

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Project Funded By The National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Award #NNX10AB56A

Carbon Connections is a three-unit, online curriculum for grades 9-12 that was designed to improve your understanding of the carbon cycle and the science of Earth's climate. Each of the three units includes five lessons. Each lesson includes focus questions, hands-on activities, virtual field trips, and interactive models. The concepts covered in the lessons span all science disciplines.

The three units follow carbon in past, present, and future contexts. The five lessons in each unit are designed to engage and challenge you by allowing you and your classmates to manipulate NASA and other data. Investigating the evidence of climate change is an important and timely matter. It's also important for you to know what you can do to address the issue. As you work through Carbon Connections, you will see that there are some easy ways for you to be a part of the solution. This supports your learning about the carbon cycle and the science of climate.

While investigating the carbon cycle and the science of Earth's climate in each of the units, you will develop your understanding of:

Unit 1: Carbon & Climate in the Past

  • Linking the carbon cycle and climate science
  • Using geologic records to infer Earth's past climates
  • Studying the multidisciplinary nature of climate science
  • Testing forcing factors, responses, and systems-thinking
  • Thinking of oceans as a carbon reservoir

Unit 2: Carbon Now

  • Photosynthesis, respiration, carbon sources, and sinks
  • Carbon transport in a breathing biosphere
  • Models of carbon cycling
  • The use of fossil fuels by humans
  • The connection between energy use and the carbon cycle

Unit 3: Carbon in the Future & You

  • Records of Earth's temperature (1890-2011)
  • Climate variability versus climate change
  • Climate models to test temperature forcings (1979-2010)
  • Reducing your carbon footprint
  • How to critically evaluate claims about carbon and climate