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The Kid Should See This, PBS Terra


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


Science, Biology

Resource Types

  • Videos, 8 minutes, 59 seconds, CC, Subtitles
  • Articles and Websites

Regional Focus


Planting Trees vs. Protecting Old Forests: Which Stores More Carbon Right Now?

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  • This video and article explains research indicating that old growth forests are more effective at storing carbon than young forests.
  • The researcher advocates for protecting forests with the oldest trees, to serve as carbon storage reserves to help combat climate change.
  • The video describes why newly planted trees are often a carbon source due to respiration and soil activity, whereas old growth forests serve to store carbon with their dense canopy of photosynthesizing leaves.
Teaching Tips


  • This video uncovers an interesting perspective on why protecting old forests is more effective at storing carbon in the short-term, compared to planting trees. 
  • Many students may not have conceptualized that trees respire and emit carbon dioxide, which can be enlightening for them.
  • The video features a female researcher that describes how data can help inform decisions related to climate change and protecting ecosystems.
  • Additional resources and links are provided at the bottom of the webpage to help students explore the topic.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should have a basic understanding of a carbon budget, including the terms carbon storage, respiration, and photosynthesis.


  • Consider having students make predictions of whether planting a young forest or protecting an old forest is more effective in combating climate change before watching the video.  
  • A graphic organizer detailing a forest's carbon budget, or a visual of the carbon cycle could be helpful for students as they view this video.
  • Biology students could connect this resource to lessons about cellular respiration, photosynthesis, ecosystems, energy transfers in trophic levels, and metabolism.
  • Additional resources that pair well with this video are Why Does This Scientist Shoot Lasers at Trees and the Global Forest Watch Interactive Map.
Scientist Notes
This is a study that measures actual carbon fluctuations in the forests, it compares CO2 sequestration capacity between young and mature or old forests. Evidence shows that mature forest sequester more CO2 than new or young forests. Microbes beneath the soil respire CO2 into the atmosphere and this adds up to the net CO2 sources. Using forests as a carbon removal strategy becomes feasible when forests are above 20 years or older. This resource is ideal for the classroom.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • 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.
      • HS-LS1-5 Use a model to illustrate how photosynthesis transforms light energy into stored chemical energy.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • HS-LS2-3 Construct and revise an explanation based on evidence for the cycling of matter and flow of energy in aerobic and anaerobic conditions.
      • 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.9-10.10 By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 9-10 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
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