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MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Earth and Space Sciences, Mathematics, Engineering

Resource Types

  • Lesson Plans
  • Podcasts, 10 minutes, 9 seconds
  • Articles and Websites
  • Charts, Graphs, and Tables
  • Activity - Classroom

Regional Focus

Global, North America, United States



Climate Change and Sequestering Carbon

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  • This lesson plan, activity, math and graphing exercise, and accompanying podcast teaches students about the technologies being investigated to directly remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. 
  • Students will learn about the economic and engineering challenges that we face when thinking about large-scale carbon sequestration through direct air capture machinery or carbon capture from emission sources.
Teaching Tips


  • The engaging activity will get students out of their chairs and working together to find the "carbon dioxide molecules" in the "atmosphere."
  • The Educator Guide is downloadable and includes all of the resources needed for teachers to successfully deliver the lesson.
  • There is a downloadable transcript of the podcast.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The full educator guide includes teacher pages and student pages.
  • There is also a guide for teachers who need support with how to use all TILclimate Educator Guides.


  • Economics classes can analyze the conclusion that mitigation (preventing emissions) is cheaper and more cost-effective than greenhouse gas removal.
  • Engineering classes can do further research on current direct air capture technologies and brainstorm possible creative improvements.
  • Biology classes can use this resource to discuss the additional ecological benefits of protecting forests, soil, mangroves, wetlands, coral reefs, and other natural ecosystems that sequester huge amounts of carbon, while also providing wildlife habitat and ecosystem services to the entire planet.
  • Other resources related to these topics include this lesson about carbon sequestration as a climate solution, this video about the potential for mass carbon capture, and this video about soil's ability to sequester carbon.
Scientist Notes
The resource highlights fuel switching, fossil fuel divestment and how CO2 could be captured and removed from the atmosphere through direct air capture and other eco-friendly methods. It presents existing challenges and opportunities to scale up carbon capture and storage globally and the need to collaborate and invest on different solutions and technology to mitigate CO2 emissions. A transcript and educator's guide, along with additional resource links, are provided. This resource is recommended for teaching.This is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • HS-ESS2-6 Develop a quantitative model to describe the cycling of carbon among the hydrosphere, atmosphere, geosphere, and biosphere.
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • HS-ETS1-3 Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.2 Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source.
  • Common Core Math Standards (CCSS.MATH)
    • Statistics & Probability: Interpreting Categorical & Quantitative Data (9-12)
      • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.HSS.ID.A.1 Represent data with plots on the real number line (dot plots, histograms, and box plots).
  • Related Resources


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