This activity focuses on the geological carbon cycle to foster student thinking on Earth systems and develop understanding of how models support and test scientific findings. It can be used to support the 2012 Holiday Lecture on Science, Earth’s Climate: Back to the Future. In this activity students learn that atmospheric composition is one of the major factors in the long-term control of Earth’s climate. They then build a model of how carbon cycles through the Earth system.
"When teaching about climate change and the carbon cycle I use video clips from Dan Schrag's 2012 Holiday Lecture on Science, Earth's Climate: Back to the Future along with this activity on the carbon cycle. The combination does a great job of laying out how Earth has been regulating its temperature using the feedback loops built into the carbon cycle and then it's easy to show how humans are perturbing that system. For kids who want to know more about this system, I always point them to the really cool EarthViewer app to look at the data going back in geologic time."