This resource explains how energy and pollutants move through an ecosystem, how ecosystems are balanced and how they may be affected by human activities. Concepts described include the roles of organisms, food chains and food webs, pyramids of biomass, biological magnification, and biogeochemical cycles such as water, carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorous cycles.
This introduction to the concept of biological complexity demystifies and debunks the argument of Paley that a complex watch is compelling evidence requiring a (complex) watchmaker (designer or creator). It employs a mathematical exercise to demonstrate this, involving a randomizing component (a die), and a simple mathematical rule (the non-random component), resulting in the repeated plotting of points. Repeated cycles eventually produce an orderly pattern. Students will learn that simple rules, acting on random events can easily produce complex, seemingly designed patterns.
This Earth Observatory site contains detailed information on the carbon cycle of the Earth. It provides an explanation of the role of carbon in the geologic carbon cycle followed by a discussion of carbon in the life process, including photosynthesis and respiration. Carbon sinks on land and in the ocean are covered next, followed by the human role in the cycle.
This lesson, provided by Science NetLinks, is the fourth of a sequence of five lessons, teaching students that most of the materials and energy used by a city come from outside the city boundaries. Students will need to have at least a general working understanding of the concepts of flow (as in energy flow) and cycles (as in nutrient cycles) in order to get the most out of this lesson. The class will use various websites to investigate these processes and then create dramatic or musical skits demonstrating their understanding of the “actors” in the urban metabolism.
This web page is a module for Grades 5-8 on the topic of Earth’s atmosphere. It contains background information for teachers on atmospheric gases and their properties, explains how energy is transferred between the earth’s surface and the atmosphere, and discusses the role ocean currents play in transferring heat. Included are links to seven classroom activities and labs on radiation, conduction, convection, the water cycle, and more. NOTE: A few of the labs involve hot liquids and require close teacher supervision. See Related items on this page for additional resources by the same authors.
This activity has students explore the carbon cycle and learn to identify carbon sources, sinks, and release agents. They will come to understand that carbon is critical to the biosphere and must continue cycling to support life on earth. The instructor guide contains detailed background material, learning goals, alignment to national standards, grade level/time, details on materials and preparation, procedure, assessment ideas, and modifications for alternative learners.
This site explains the hydrologic cycle and interactions of ground water with surface water, streams, lakes, and wetlands. There are sections about chemical interactions of ground water and surface water; evolution of water chemistry in drainage basins; and interaction of ground water and surface water in different landscapes. Mountainous, riverine, coastal, glacial and dune, and karst terrain are examined.
This diagram illustrates some of the most abundant stores of carbon and identifies some of the pathways in the carbon cycle along which carbon is transferred from one form to another. Long-term sinks of carbon are labelled in black; shorter-term fluxes are labelled in purple. Amounts are in billions of tons.