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Cycling Carbon

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Cycling Carbon

In this experiment, learners will investigate the release of carbon-containing gas from living and nonliving sources. Learners scratch the surface of a limestone rock and observe what happens when they place a few drops of vinegar on the scratched area. Next, learners observe what happens when they release carbon dioxide from a balloon into a beaker with Bromothymol Blue. Learners are encouraged to consider how the results of this experiment would change if they added an aquatic plant to the beaker and also design a method for demonstrating how plants give off carbon dioxide.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per student)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
      • Rocks and Minerals
      • Atmosphere
      • Biosphere
  • Life Sciences
    • Cells
      • Chemistry of Life
    • Diversity of Life
      • Plants
    • Ecology
      • Ecosystems
      • Energy Flow and Chemical Cycles
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
    • Problem Solving
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Reactions
      • Acids and Bases
      • Chemistry of Life
    • States of Matter
      • Gases
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Elements and Periodic Table
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Bunnell, Dave


  • All Rights Reserved, Dave Bunnell, ©2008

Funding Sources:

  • The National Geographic Society
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • National Energy Technology Laboratory
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Shell
  • The George Washington University
  • Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
  • Motorola Foundation
  • Microsoft Corporation


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