Tracking Carbon: Photosynthesis and Respiration

  • Overview (PDF, 399KB) (includes learning outcomes and Standards alignment)
  • In this session, students collect evidence using multiple approaches (e.g. lab investigations, field experiments, model simulations, real-time data) to explore the role of photosynthesis and respiration in the flow of carbon through different global carbon “reservoirs”. They learn that dissolved oxygen can be a “proxy” for carbon dioxide in natural waters, and use this to explore and interpret natural patterns and identify environmental factors that control oxygen, carbon dioxide, and pH. With this collection of evidence, they construct explanations for changes in oxygen, photosynthesis, and respiration throughout the day, and discuss implications for this in terms of seasonal patterns in changing atmospheric CO2 and ocean pH on local and global scales.
  • Activity Write-up (PDF, 781KB)
  • Activity Powerpoint slides (PDF, 1.3MB)
  • Activity handouts: