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The Kid Should See This, PBS NOVA


6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Types

  • Videos, 4 minutes, 6 seconds, CC, Subtitles
  • Articles and Websites

Regional Focus


Why Does This Scientist Shoot Lasers at Trees?

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  • This video and article describes the laser technology used to measure the carbon content of forests. 
  • These lasers can also be used from the International Space Station to provide quantifiable data for the global importance of forests in sequestering and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Teaching Tips


  • The video highlights the research of a diverse female scientist.
  • The personal story is interesting and the complicated technology is explained in an approachable way.
  • The video highlights how data and technology can be used to gather evidence to support conservation efforts.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should be familiar with the carbon cycle and the concept of carbon sequestration.


  • Before showing the video, have students predict how someone could measure the amount of carbon stored in a forest.  Then, show them how to calculate it mathematically using only a tape measure.
  • After watching the video, students could brainstorm methods for measuring carbon on their school grounds and identify areas to increase the carbon storage potential.
  • Additional resources that may be helpful are Carbon Sequestration: Solutions to Climate Change and Count the Trees.
Scientist Notes
This resource is a 4-minute video and accompanying website that shows the ways in which one tree scientist is taking observations (from the ground and via satellites) to estimate the amount of carbon stored in trees and forests worldwide. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Science
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • HS-ESS2-6. Develop a quantitative model to describe the cycling of carbon among the hydrosphere, atmosphere, geosphere, and biosphere.
    • LS2: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics Within Ecosystems
      • HS-LS2-5. Develop a model to illustrate the role of photosynthesis and cellular respiration in the cycling of carbon among the biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere.
  • English Language Arts
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • SL.6.2 Interpret information presented in diverse media and formats and explain how it contributes to a topic, text, or issue under study.
  • Related Resources


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