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NBC Learn, Windows to the Universe


6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Social Studies, Earth and Space Sciences, Geography, Health

Resource Type

  • Videos, 6 minutes, 6 seconds, CC, Subtitles

Regional Focus

Global, Asia


YouTube Video

Changing Planet: Black Carbon

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  • This video discusses the sources of black carbon and how it contributes to the warming of the atmosphere and respiratory health problems for humans.
  • Students will learn how innovative solutions like distributing solar-powered lanterns and clean cooking stoves to people who rely on black carbon-emitting biomass fuels could help to eliminate the climate problems caused by black carbon particles in the atmosphere while improving the health of communities.
Teaching Tips


  • The video covers an important climate change issue that is not often presented.
  • This video has some cool and interesting footage of machines engineered to collect data and provide solutions.
  • The video provides enough information for students to see the connections between data, policy, solutions, and improving the health of communities.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Teachers may want to provide some context for this video so that students understand why so many people around the world rely on biomass fuels that produce black carbon.


  • Earth science classes could discuss how the ice cores provide scientists with information about the history of black carbon. Teachers could explain the concepts of stratification and superposition.
  • Biology or health classes could study the health consequences of breathing black carbon from stoves or other sources.
  • In social studies or geography classes, students could research the impacts of black carbon in different regions around the world and learn whether or not these impacts are occurring in the students' region.
Scientist Notes
This resource is a collaboration between NSF and NBC that describes and demonstrates the causes and impacts of black carbon emissions. There is a video and accompanying descriptions and lesson plans. The video seems to have been re-uploaded to YouTube in 2020, although the 'Changing Planet' series seems to have been released in 2011. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • MS-ESS2-1 Develop a model to describe the cycling of Earth's materials and the flow of energy that drives this process.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-1 Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • HS-LS2-7 Design, evaluate, and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Geography
      • D2.Geo.4.6-8 Explain how cultural patterns and economic decisions influence environments and the daily lives of people in both nearby and distant places.
      • D2.Geo.10.6-8 Analyze the ways in which cultural and environmental characteristics vary among various regions of the world.
      • D2.Geo.11.3-5 Describe how the spatial patterns of economic activities in a place change over time because of interactions with nearby and distant places.
      • D2.Geo.12.3-5 Explain how natural and human-made catastrophic events in one place affect people living in other places.
      • D2.Geo.9.9-12 Evaluate the influence of long-term climate variability on human migration and settlement patterns, resource use, and land uses at local-to-global scales.
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