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TERC, Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College (SERC)


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Social Studies, Biology

Resource Types

  • Interactive Media
  • Lesson Plans
  • Videos, 8 minutes, 4 seconds
  • Activity - Classroom

Regional Focus


Deforestation and the Carbon Cycle Lab

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  • In this two-part lab, students will explore the connections between forests and the carbon cycle, learn about the consequences of deforestation, and conduct research to track deforestation over time.
  • Students will also learn about the reasons for deforestation and hear some personal stories from people living off of the land.

Teaching Tips


  • Students can use the interactive map to identify areas of deforestation near them.
  • The global map comparing the extent of original forest cover and recent forest cover is striking.

Additional Prerequisites:

  • Familiarize yourself with the interactive map before presenting it to students so that you can assist them.
  • The Amazon Deforestation video is no longer available.
  • Access to devices and the Internet are required for this lab.


  • Consider flipping the videos as homework so that students can focus on the questions, discussions, research, and interactive map during class.
  • Have students keep a lab notebook or journal to record important notes, questions, data, and findings.
  • This could tie into social studies classes when discussing how to adapt and support sustainable transitions for specific communities.
  • Have students think about the lack of choices that people have in many parts of the world and research ways that conservation efforts have been successful in supporting people and wild areas around the world.
  • Consider having students watch this video about conservation and restoration ecology after doing this lab to learn more about solutions to problems that affect people and the planet.
Scientist Notes

The resource is apt, and it is recommended to deepen understanding on the rate of deforestation, to detect land use change, and to explore the relationship between the carbon cycle and climate change. The Global Forest Watch Interactive Map developed by World Resources Institute is also recommended for use.

  • Science
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • HS-ESS2-2. Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth’s surface can create feedbacks that cause changes to other Earth systems.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-4. Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
    • LS1: Structures and Processes
      • HS-LS1-5. Use a model to illustrate how photosynthesis transforms light energy into stored chemical energy.
    • LS2: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics Within Ecosystems
      • HS-LS2-7. Design, evaluate, and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity.
  • Social Studies
    • Economics
      • SS.Econ1.b.h Evaluate how incentives determine what is produced and distributed in a competitive market system.
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