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Ecosystems | Activity 5.1

(Optional) Activity 5.1: Landscape Changes and Carbon in Ecosystems (40+ minutes)

Students apply their knowledge of carbon cycling to ecosystems that haven’t yet been discussed in this Unit using satellite images from locations of their choice.

Materials You Provide

  • Google Earth

Resources Provided


Download free Google Earth software to classroom computer. Practice using software and see if visual images of your schoolyard are available for different points in time. Prepare a computer and projector to display the PPT.


1. Discuss carbon pool sizes in different ecosystems.

Use 5.1 Pools in Other Ecosystems PPT to compare the Meadow Simulation to different ecosystems.

  • Remind students that the Meadow Simulation was a simulation of one specific ecosystem: a meadow. Show students the biomass pyramid on Slide 2 and discuss how it represents the patterns observed in the simulation.


During this activity, check to see if students are able to make the connection between the carbon pools discussed in previous activities and the carbon pools they see in the aerial images and in their schoolyard.


Before beginning the Activity, browse the images on Google Earth to see if they will be useful for your region. If not, choose another nearby area that the students might be familiar with.


Have students explore Google Earth on their own to find an example of land use change in a region of their choice.

Extending the Learning

These additional resources may be useful before or after you teach this activity to help think further about land use and carbon pools: