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Carbon: A Unit For Years 9 and 10

Secondary

Description

This comprehensive unit explores the nature of carbon and its effects on the environment. Following an inquiry approach, the 8 lesson package focuses student attention on 5 essential questions.

• What is carbon?

• What is the carbon cycle?

• What is climate change and what role does carbon play in it?

• What is my carbon footprint and how can I reduce it?

• What can be done to mitigate climate change on a regional scale?

Students are provided with tools and opportunity to examine climate change-based problems in a variety of environmental, social and economic contexts and to consider different solutions. Students investigate their own questions relating to carbon, energy and climate. In doing so they conduct hands-on investigations, participate in simulations, view and respond to video presentations, carry out research using a variety of sources, share information and ideas and work cooperatively to build consensus. An underlying goal is to develop students who are accurately informed on climate issues relating to carbon.

 

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Calculating and analyzing ecological footprints
  • Collection, analysis and presentation of data
  • Consensus Building
  • Inquiry (predict, observe, explain)

Strengths

  • Includes a wide range of interesting learning tools & activities
  • Resource package is complete and easy to implement
  • Excellent teacher background information & support
  • Attention to literacy throughout
  • Places emphasis on both content and (inquiry) process

Weaknesses

  • Lacks emphasis and support for the implementation, completion & celebration of a student action project.

Recommendation of how and where to use it

While lessons can be used individually to address several specific outcomes in both science and geography, finding time to complete the entire unit is recommended in order to achieve the goal of well-informed students regarding the environmental, social and economic impacts of climate change, 

Lesson One will have great appeal to teachers (& students) exploring chemical reactions in grades 9/10.  The remainder of the unit provides an opportunity to connect the chemistry of carbon and carbon reactions to the 'real world' challenge of climate change.

NOTES: The link to the Greenhouse Effect animation identified in Lesson 4 can be found HERE.  The link to the video "I Can Change Your Mind on Climate" can be found HERE.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

  • Step 1Select a province
  • Alberta
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Chemistry
        • Knowledge and Employability Science: Environmental Chemistry (Social and Environmental Contexts Emphasis)
        • Knowledge and Employability Science: Matter and Chemical Change (Nature of Science Emphasis
        • Matter and Chemical Change
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 10: Energy Flow in Global Systems
  • British Columbia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemical processes require energy change as atoms are rearranged
  • Manitoba
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Senior 1 Science: Atoms and Elements
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Senior 2 Science: Chemistry in Action
        • Senior 2 Science: Weather Dynamics
  • New Brunswick
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Physical Science: Atoms and Elements
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemical Reactions
        • Weather Dynamics
  • Newfoundland & Labrador
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Atoms. Elements & Compounds
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 1206: Chemical Reactions
        • Science 1206: Weather Dynamics
  • Northwest Territories
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Matter and Chemical Change
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 10: Energy Flow in Global Systems
  • Nova Scotia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 9: Atoms and Elements
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Geography 10: Spaceship Earth
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 10: Weather Dynamics
  • Nunavut
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemistry and the Environment
        • Knowledge and Employability Science: Environmental Chemistry (Social and Environmental Contexts Emphasis)
        • Knowledge and Employability Science: Matter and Chemical Change (Nature of Science Emphasis
        • Matter and Chemical Change
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Experiential Science 10, Terrestial Systems: Climatology and Meteorology
        • Science 10: Energy Flow in Global Systems
  • Ontario
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Issues in Canadian Geography (Academic): Interactions in the Physical Environment
        • Issues in Canadian Geography (Applied): Interactions in the Physical Environment
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science (Academic):Chemistry: Atoms, Elements and Compounds
        • Science (Applied):Chemistry: Exploring Matter
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science (Academic):Chemistry: Chemical Reactions
        • Science (Academic):Earth and Space Science: Climate Change
        • Science (Applied)::Chemistry: Chemical Reactions and Their Practical Applications
        • Science (Applied)::Earth and Space Science: Earth's Dynamic Climate
  • Prince Edward Island
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Physical Science: Atoms and Elements
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 421A: Chemical Reactions
        • Science 421A: Weather Dynamics
  • Saskatchewan
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 9: Physical Science: Atoms and Elements
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 10: Chemical Reactions
        • Science 10: Climate and Ecosystem Dynamics
  • Yukon Territory
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Physical Science: Chemical Reactions and Radioactivity

Themes Addressed

  • Air, Atmosphere & Climate (1)

    • Climate Change
  • Citizenship (1)

    • Ecological Footprint
  • Energy (3)

    • Alternative Energy
    • Energy Generation
    • Energy Use

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good

The lessons require students to generate & investigate their own questions about carbon, energy & climate. In lesson 5 (I Can Change Your Mind About Climate) students examine data on rising CO2, consider various viewpoints (including skeptics) and formulate and express their own perspectives on climate change.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Good

As reflected in the lesson (4) that deals with climate systems & tipping points and ecological footprint lesson (5), students view climate in social, economic & environmental contexts.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Very Good

Carbon, energy and climate and the relationships among them are represented throughout this resource in appropriate depth and complexity.

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Poor/Not considered

While significant time and attention are paid to having students reflect on their personal connection to climate change and requiring them to consider possible next (mitigation) steps, no concrete action project is undertaken.

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Very Good

Several lessons require students to reflect on what they observe and discover, discuss shared experiences with their peers and provide explanations and perspectives.

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Good

The ecological footprint activity (Lesson 5) requires students to compare and discuss results with different parts of the world.  This discussion along with the video "Climate Change in East Timor"provide obvious opportunities to examine and discuss climate justice. 

Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Good

Lesson 4 (tipping points) and lesson 5 (ecological footprint) include a number of activities that will definitely raise concern for the health of our planet.

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Good

A number of activities including the 'footprint exercise' and the 'sequestration field trip' make the learning concrete and local. 

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Satisfactory

While the majority of lessons address current conditions and circumstances, students do consider 'next steps'. 

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Very Good

The resource follows a question, investigate and review template and students generate many of the questions themselves.  The goal is for students to become better informed and more articulate on the issues.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Satisfactory

The most obvious curriculum connections relate to science and geography.  However attention is paid to improving literacy skills throughout the unit.

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Very Good
Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Satisfactory

A wide range of activity types (video, lab demonstration, simulation, hands-on experimentation, field work, jigsaw, research, writing, discussion) will address the needs of different learning styles.  No specific differentiation strategies are provided.

Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Satisfactory

There are a number of learning activities involving 'hands-on" experience as well as participation in simulations.

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Good

Students work cooperatively on regular basis.  Lesson 4 (Climate Systems) features a jigsaw activity in which skills are taught and practiced.

Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Good

Each lesson concludes with suggestions for formative and summative assessment. Rubrics are not included.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory

In several lessons students are required to share findings with their classmates.  In the jigsaw exercise (Lesson 4) students depend on each other to provide essential information.

Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Good

The video presentations & related activities that form the core of several lessons are based on relevant case studies.

Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Very Good

Having students decide on which questions to investigate is a key element of the resource. At different stages, students review what they have learned and then decide for themselves "what comes next".

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.