Lesson Plan: Teaching Carbon Cycle through Climate-related Examples

As a high school or undergraduate Chemistry or Earth Sciences teacher, you can use this set of computer-based tools to help you in teaching topics in environmental chemistry such as the carbon cycle or biogeochemical cycles.

This lesson plan allows students to understand the carbon cycle, its components, and the flow among the different components of this biogeochemical cycle. The activity will introduce the link between the carbon cycle and climate. It will also explore how human activity (such as increased fossil fuel use) may affect the natural carbon cycle, and may thus cause climate-related changes.
Thus, the use of this lesson plan allows you to integrate the teaching of a climate science topic with a core topic in Chemistry.

Carbon Cycle by UCAR


Use this lesson plan to help your students find answers to:

  1.  What is the role of weathering of rocks in the carbon cycle? What are the chemical reactions in this process?
  2. Which components in the carbon cycle act as carbon sinks?
  3.  If fossil fuel usage increases, what would be the effect on the different carbon sinks? What would be the possible changes in the Earth’s climate?
  4. What are the possible impacts of deforestation on the natural carbon cycle? How might these changes affect the Earth’s climate?

Carbon Cycle by IPCC

About Lesson Plan

Grade Level High School, Undergraduate
Discipline Chemistry
Topic(s) in Discipline • Environmental Chemistry
• Carbon Cycle
• Biogeochemical Cycles
Climate Topic Long-term Cycles and Feedback Mechanisms
Location Global
Languages English
Access Online
Approximate Time Required 120-160 min


Interactive diagram (~30 min) An interactive diagram that introduces the global carbon cycle, its components, and the flow among the various components through video clips and images.
Reading (20 – 30 min) A reading that provides an overview of the carbon cycle, and explains the link between the carbon cycle and the Earth’s climate.


Classroom/ Laboratory activity
(Simulation and associated exercises) (60 – 90 min)
A classroom/laboratory activity using an interactive simulation and associated exercises to explore and analyze how human activities may affect the natural carbon cycle, and to discuss the potential effects on the Earth’s climate.
Here is a step-by-step guide to using this lesson plan in the classroom/laboratory. We have suggested these steps as a possible plan of action. You may customize the lesson plan according to your preferences and requirements.
1.Introduce the topic through an interactive diagram
  • • Introduce the topic of the global carbon cycle by using the interactive diagram “Carbon Cycle”, from the Science Learning Hub (New Zealand).
  • • Students can observe the components of the carbon cycle and observe the flow among these parts. They can interact with the components by clicking on them to learn more details.
  • • The interactive tool, “Carbon Cycle”, can be accessed at https://www.sciencelearn.org.nz/image_maps/3-carbon-cycle
2. Read about the topic
3. Conduct a classroom/ laboratory activity

Mapped Sustainable Development Goal(s), apart from 4 and 13

The Fast carbon cycle

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