This group activity is designed to deepen students’ understanding of the carbon cycle. It is aimed at upper primary classes, as it represents a simplified model of how carbon moves. Students will develop their understanding of how carbon moves between the atmosphere, plants, and animals, as well as how the burning of fossil fuels over the past 250 years has caused an imbalance in the carbon cycle.
This is a group activity based on a class of 26-30 students. Depending on the group size, the numbers listed below may need altering. Guidance on specific changes is given in the Group size options section below.
Download the Carbon cycle role play cards from the What you’ll need section. Stick up the ‘team area’ cards on four walls of a classroom. Assign students to each of the team areas based on the numbers in the diagram below with:
As students move around the classroom, you can ask questions about what their movement represents. Below are some model statements.
Moving from atmosphere to plants
I am carbon (dioxide) being absorbed by plants and turned into food to help me grow.
Moving from the ocean to plants
I am carbon (dioxide), dissolved in the ocean, being absorbed by plants and turned in to food to help me grow.
Moving from plants to animals
I am carbon being eaten (consumed) by animals.
Moving from plants to atmosphere
I am carbon being emitted into the atmosphere by plants as I use my food for energy.
Moving from plants to the ocean
I am carbon being emitted into the ocean by plants as I used my food for energy.
Moving from animals to the ocean
I am carbon being emitted into the ocean by animals as I used food for energy.
Moving from animals to atmosphere
I am carbon being emitted into the atmosphere by animals as I use food for energy.
Moving between the ocean and the atmosphere
I am carbon being dissolved in the ocean / being released into the atmosphere.
Moving from fossil fuels to atmosphere (and ocean)
I am carbon being emitted into the atmosphere as fossil fuels are burned for energy to power cars and to generate electricity. Some of this carbon is absorbed into the ocean.
The options below give some guidelines on changing the team sizes for smaller groups. You will need to edit the text on the instruction slides as well to fit with any changes.
Science / Geography | Ages 7-11
Ocean & Climate | Science & Geography | Ages 7-11 is a KS2 teacher resource. Based on the work of the Convex Seascape Survey, this unit develops students' understanding of climate change, ocean, and sustainability topics.