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6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th


Science, Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Types

  • Articles and Websites
  • Videos, 4 minutes, 23 seconds, CC, Subtitles

Regional Focus


All About Carbon

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  • This article and linked video details the movement of carbon through the air, soil, oceans, and living organisms through processes such as photosynthesis, consumption, and decomposition.
  • It uses the bathtub analogy to help students understand the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, discusses how fossil fuels are formed, and gives insight into what is throwing the carbon cycle out of balance.
  • Students will learn that carbon dioxide is cycled into and out of the Earth's atmosphere in multiple ways, fossil fuel formation takes millions of years, and humans are causing a dramatic rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide by burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests.
Teaching Tips


  • The video is easy to understand and connects to many topics.
  • The video talks about the ocean's role in the carbon cycle.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students need to know what carbon dioxide is and have a basic understanding of Earth's systems.
  • Students should be familiar with the terms photosynthesis, fossil fuels, and decomposition.


  • This video would be a great introduction to biology and chemistry classes that are learning the specifics of cellular respiration, photosynthesis, chemical reactions, the rock cycle, or decomposition.
  • Middle school Earth science classes could use this video to supplement a lesson about the weathering of rocks, the slow carbon cycle, ocean sediments, or other processes that release or store carbon dioxide.
  • The video could be used to help explain the greenhouse effect and how human activities are connected to increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide.
  • Consider having students explore all of the tabs after watching and reading about carbon dioxide and making it a complete lesson or unit.
Scientist Notes
This video resource from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency explains the carbon cycle using clear animations. The bathtub example in this video perfectly illustrates the carbon cycle. In this bathtub, carbon dioxide (CO2) is the water and in the natural cycle inflows and outflows are balanced, so the water level (CO2) in the tub (atmosphere) remains constant. Currently, the burning of fossil fuels is adding too much water (CO2) to the bathtub (atmosphere), so the result is sure to be a wet bathroom floor (global climate change). This video features colorful graphics, clear narration and a call to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • HS-ESS2-2 Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth’s surface can create feedbacks that cause changes to other Earth systems.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-4 Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth's systems.
    • LS1: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
      • MS-LS1-6 Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for the role of photosynthesis in the cycling of matter and flow of energy into and out of organisms.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • HS-LS2-5 Develop a model to illustrate the role of photosynthesis and cellular respiration in the cycling of carbon among the biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.4 Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6-8 texts and topics.
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