Last updated: September 22, 2016
Climate Change #4 - Human Influence
- Grade Level:
- Upper Elementary: Third Grade through Fifth Grade
- Lesson Duration:
- 60 Minutes
- Additional Standards:
- ESS2.A, ESS2.C, ESS3.C, ESS3.D, LS1.C, LS2.A, LS2.B, PS1.A, PS1.B, PS3.D
By the end of this activity:
1. Students will be able to list human influences on climate.
2. Students will be able to explain the entire carbon cycle
Materials: Signs labeled “Oil”, “Natural Gas”, “Coal”, “Electricity”, and “CO2”, large green and blue circle from last activity, Supplies to set up a city in the classroom. (You can use toys or boxes or just label some stations to represent a mine, a power plant, oil refinery, natural gas supplier, gas station, and any other buildings of your choice), Materials to create a mural.
For student use during activity.
1. Assign roles to the students: 3 miners, 2 power plant operators, 1 natural gas salesman, 2 oil refiners, 1 gas station owner, and all the rest are home owners. Have them sit by their stations. Home owners sit at desks.
2. Explain to the students that a long time ago a forest died and was buried in the earth by geologic forces. Explain that after a long time, and a lot of pressure from the dirt and rocks above and heat from the earth below, the forests turned into fossil fuels such as gas, oil, and coal. The forest is now a mine. You can also discuss how fossil fuels are still carbon sinks.
3. Have some students acting as miners take the oil, coal, or gas out of the ground. They should take the Oil signs to a refinery, the Coal signs to a power plant, and the Natural Gas signs to a gas company.
4. Now the students working for each of the companies will deliver the sign to the appropriate next place, such as a gas station or gas tanks and electricity to the homes. Oil goes to refinery then gas station. Coal goes to power plant where it is turned into electricity (Every time a power plant worker delivers electricity have them drop CO2 into the atmosphere circle). Natural gas workers deliver it to home owner to heat their house.
5. Stop the students and explain that up to this point, the carbon has stayed locked in the fuel. Remind the students about the respiration equation. Explain that burning is the same as respiration, breaking the sugar or other carbon compounds like fossil fuels, and reassembling the CO2.
6. Next have the home owners act as people in the city burning the fuel. Home owners can wait for deliveries or go drive their car and get gasoline. Every time someone uses energy (drives a car to get gas, heats their house, uses electricity), CO2 is released into the air. Have that person take a CO2 card and put it in the blue circle (atmosphere). As CO2 is added to the atmosphere complain about how hot it is getting.
7. There are various ways you can keep this organized. Have students move only one item at a time. You can have students wait 30 seconds before moving another item or divide home owners in groups and send one group at a time.
8. Run game for 5 to 10 minutes and then discuss how much CO2 was created.
Assessment MaterialsDiscussion Questions and Unit Kahoot!
Use the questions to stimulate discussion and the Kahoot! to check for understanding.
Have students go through the entire carbon cycle, tracing the route of an individual carbon atom.
(The carbon atoms in the air are usually attached to oxygen as CO2. The CO2 is used by a plant in photosynthesis, in which the carbon atom is attached to more carbon, oxygen and hydrogen atoms to make sugar which is stored in the plant or used to build other molecules which become part of the plant’s cells. The carbon stays in the plant until the plant dies and decomposes, then the large sugar molecules break apart, decompose, and the carbon returns to the air as part of a CO2 molecule.)
Have each student come up with a specific action they can take to lower their carbon footprint. If possible, encourage students to use chemistry to explain why their action would use less carbon and why their action would reduce climate change.
(Answers will vary. Possibilities include planting trees and actions which reduce the use of fossil fuels.)