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Plants | Community Connection: Trees Made of Air

Community Connection: Trees Made of Air (Optional)

Students explore the amount of carbon sequestered in a tree in their community. They compare this to the amount carbon emitted by the average car.

Guiding Questions

How much carbon does a tree sequester in a year?

How does this compare to the amount of carbon emitted by the average car in a year?

Activity – Trees Made of Air Worksheet

Objectives

  1. Analyze the amount of carbon sequestered by trees per year.

NGSS Performance Expectations – see unit

Background Information

The goal of this lesson is for students to connect what they learned in the Plants Unit to trees in their community. To accomplish this, students pick a tree in their school yard or community and measure the diameter of its canopy. They use an empirically derived equation to estimate the amount of carbon sequestered by the tree in a year. They compare this to the amount of carbon emitted by the average car per year and discuss the possibility of offsetting car emissions with trees.

Key carbon-transforming processes: photosynthesis and combustion

Talk and Writing

At this stage in the unit, the students will be applying unit ideas that should be well-developed. This is an opportunity to practice those ideas an additional time. The table below shows specific talk and writing goals for this phase of the unit.

Talk and Writing Goals for the Application Phase

Teacher Talk Strategies That Support This Goal

Curriculum Components That Support This Goal

Treat this as an opportunity to practice unit ideas

We’ve learned a lot about photosynthesis in this unit. Let’s see how these ideas apply to trees in our community.

 

Listen for student ideas about matter and energy at different scales. Are they using unit ideas or informal reasoning?

How can a massive solid organism like a tree be made from gas and liquid? What atoms from the air end up in the tree?

Three Questions Poster from the unit

Help students practice using precise language to describe matter and energy at different scales.

What do we mean by a tree sequestering carbon?   What process is involved?   How do atoms move during that process?

Molecule Poster

Three Questions Poster