Final Blog Reflection

Reflecting upon my understanding of our data, methods, results, and conclusions shows me that, as I have admitted before, I have come a long way in terms of understanding and appreciating the carbon cycle (and global warming). I must say though, I never understood any specific thing instantly, for the most part. What I mean is that as we learned about the carbon cycle, I had to go over it a few times before I could pass the exam we took at the starting of the semester. When we learned how to format our presentations, I had to take time and practice so that I could effectively teach it to a teenage audience. When we learned about the statistics portion, it had been forever since I had used Excel, so it was refreshing to see that I could get back into it again. The poster method of teaching certainly seems like an effective way of showing all of the necessary information–I think ours turned out well because we managed to make it less and less wordy. This made it less intimidating to read, and easier to understand in general. The scientific and presenting skills I improved over the course of the semester will be beneficial to me in the future!

After the first time I did my presentation to my fellow students and the instructors, I knew that I had potential, but that I had to practice it and be more comfortable with the material. It was a rather long presentation, after all, so it was easy to forget things, or go too fast. I think my actual presentation went well, because the kids stayed engaged for the most part, especially the experimental portion. I could improve upon certain speaking skills though…sometimes I feel like I try to fit too much information into a sentence at once. The hardest part about teaching was to make sure I didn’t bore the audience, and to present i n a way that they could understand the fundamentals of what I was teaching. The presentation from the School of Education was a help…I especially liked the part when we watched the video of Harvard grads who couldn’t explain how an acorn grows. It just goes to show that this basic, fundamental information needs to be presented better. The module I was most comfortable was the second module, with the experimentation. It was very hands-on, and I enjoyed being able to go out to the school’s mesocosm. I felt like it was the least “wordy” of the presentations, to a degree.

In learning the information, I went over the slides as well as looked up simple descriptions of the carbon cycle on google. I also typed prompts underneath the slides in powerpoint, so I could read what I was going to say while I studied the slides themselves. I would look at the slides and try to teach it to myself in my head. The least effective method of studying the information was to try and study from my assessment. Even though I did well on them, they were not really effective tools to help me word my presentation…I needed to see the slides themselves. It was one thing to do good on assessment myself, it was another to teach it in an effective manner to high school students. The “Instructor PowerPoint” was a good source to study from, being that it set the standard for all of us to teach by. I felt that the way the info was presented was already adequate, I have no complaints about the instruction. The instructors always asked if we needed something clarified, or offered for us to come visit them in their office. As far as this goes, I think there is no improvement needed.

I enjoyed the class overall, mostly because of the positive learning environment. It felt like it was a Capstone Course, and it was nice that we, as students, had to take ownership over all the information we were learning. I have talked to many other students about their Capstone lectures/ labs, and none of them seemed to think too much of them–more of a “check in the box.” I think students who don’t take a course like this are missing out. My only wish was that we had been able to present the information at the Rice Center, but that was of course not VCU’s fault. I just really liked that place when we went, and enjoyed going through the vernal pool. Being that we only got three sessions with the high schoolers, I can’t really suggest anything further we could have taught them (we really had to make sure we could squeeze what we could into the time we did have!). As an undergrad, I felt we were taught an appropriate amount of info, and expected to research further when writing these blogs. The only thing I would change is that I wished we could meet more than just Monday and Friday…they seemed very far apart.

I will take this information with me into the future, being that I am looking to become a high school biology teacher. Perhaps one day the Carbon Capstone class will teach my class! I feel that I will being able to incorporate the keys aspects of info that we learned, especially the info that is not historically taught (or taught well) in biology classes. I know that Ms. Sherwood (the teacher of the class I taught) headed an environmental club or something, and I would like to do that as well, wherever I work. That would be a way to get kids interested in the field of biology, and give them extra information. As far as the politics of global warming go, I feel that I am equipped to explain to nay-sayers that it is, in fact, a real thing. The problem is, most of those people are not concerned with facts…I’ve tried to explain the carbon cycle to them before, and of course, they don’t get it or just “still don’t believe.” We need to teach people this information at a younger age it seems, before politics get into their head.

The class that had some similarities to what we learned was Ecology. In fact, after taking this course, I have a renewed interest in field work, so I am planning on taking ecology lab. I really enjoyed going tot he Rice Center, being outdoors, and taking readings. It really puts you into the experiment, rather than just reading a textbook. I feel like a lot of the terminology in ecology was useful to know for this course, as well as how inland waters worked. The blog was an interesting way to communicate outside of class, and it was cool to see what my classmates came up with on their blogs. It was useful to go over the speaker we had recently heard, or to have to go look for scholarly articles that expanded upon the information we were learning/ teaching. I tried to make my blog helpful and worth reading. I did like the instructor blog also, as there were some good readings posted on it. The topics were an appropriate extension of our classwork.

This course did change my perspective on carbon, because I had never had a reason to really learn the carbon cycle well, and to reflect upon its importance. I feel that I have learned useful information, information and experience that I would be less equipped to teach if I did not acquire. I am sure that is why the School of Education wanted me to take this course before I applied to them for a Master’s program. This course also made me realize the severity of carbon emissions and greenhouse gases, something that is beyond most people in the United States. I have tried to do what I can, riding my bike instead of driving, and making sure I recycle when there is a bin available.

I think the take away from learning how to teach this information was to make sure the fundamentals were understood…and to make it relevant to the students. Global warming is not something that exists outside their life, and it’s not something that affects nothing. I felt it wa important to really push the fact that even small changes in the temperature can negatively affect many aspects of the world, from seashells underwater, to humans. I think it is an uphill battle, especially with the sheer amount of attitudes and beliefs. For example, while some will say that global warming has directly influenced the amount of hurricanes that have been happen, others will disagree. Kevin Trenberth’s research, from a science journal I found online, asserted that anthropogenic changes in environments haven’t been able to be statistically proven to increase the amount of hurricanes and rainfalls yet, but do create an environment for more intense ones when they do come (Trenberth 1754). This was a good example of something that “nay-sayers” would take advantage of, for political reasons. “See? He said you can’t statistically prove it yet! You liberals are part of a hoax!” There may be newer research that has been better able to show the dangers of global warming, with newer data – I hope!

Watch, in pain, as FOX ‘News” tries to use a snow storm as evidence that global warming doesn’t exist. You probably won’t get through more than a minute without a headache, you’ve been warned!

Trenberth, K.. “CLIMATE: Uncertainty In Hurricanes And Global Warming.” Science 308.5729 (2005): 1753-1754. Print.


Know, Learn and Apply

Before taking this course, my knowledge of the carbon cycle was limited, in fact, I hadn’t even touched the subject for years. The last time I learned about it was in a biology class I took over 6 years ago. To be honest, the subject didn’t even interest me, but my adviser told me that I should take this course if I was thinking about going for a Masters in Education- they like this course over there. Upon deciding to take this course, I decided to try and learn a bit about the carbon cycle over winter break, but I never really found a real “down-to-earth” article on it. If I were to see my initial test that we took the first day of this class, I would laugh at myself.

The most vital information I learned in this course was the fact that the carbon cycle is rather simple to explain…if explained correctly. I almost think that what I learned about teaching was really the best thing I learned. Sure, now I understand the carbon cycle, global warming, and ocean acidifcation, but I also am able to put these things in my own words, and explain them to high school kids. As far as what elements of this information I think is most important to teach secondary education students, I believe that the photosynthesis, respiration, and the law of conservation of mass are the most important. If they can understand those things, then they will be able to understand why global warming and ocean acidifcation take place. Also, if they don’t understand those main concepts, then they woun’t understand why we are conducting experiments, or what the data means. I do also think the fact that we are bringing Excel into the last presentation is good though, so the students can see that we are actually working with the data we measured. I think most students have heard or learned of global warming before, and perhaps ocean acidification, but probably never fully connected the dots on how it all happens. One course that the education Masters program keeps saying they want me to take a course in is oceanography, because many schools want someone to be able to adequately teach the subject. I think that teaching oceanography to students would also be a good time to bring in the carbon cycle and ocean acidification. An article I found, Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Marine Fauna and Ecosystem Processes, seemed to be a good example how to adequately word the issue. It mentioned that priority areas for for ocean acidification research are  high-latitude regions, which are projected to undergo the most significant  changes in carbonate chemistry, and therefore ocean acidification over decade to century time-scales. On top of that, even coastal regions,  undergo ocean acidification, due to -you guessed it- anthropogenic effects. People must also take into account that these coastal areas (like we have on the ocean border of Virginia, are of great importance to tourism marine resources, and industry, so research is urgently needed (Fabry, V. J. et all). Putting it in these terms can help students see how all of this impacts even their home state.

 The knowledge in the course we have learned has indeed opened my eyes to my carbon input, especially after we took that carbon footprint survey way back when, and when we learned about recycling in Richmond. It made me appreciate the “green initiative” that VCU is doing, with all its recycle bins everywhere. Also, it’s nice that so many bike in this city, rather than drive…which is something I would like to do…both for the environment, and saving gas money.


I will use all of this in my future career, because I plan on teaching science in secondary public schools, specifically biology. I know that public schools have a strict regimen of what is taught, but I will try to fit in things I learned from this course, in such cases we are talking about the carbon cycle, global warming, etc. I also feel that I have a heads up on how to teach secondary schools, because our instructors gave us good feedback when we gave our presentations to the class.

Fabry, V. J., Seibel, B. A., Feely, R. A., and Orr, J. C. 2008. Impacts of ocean acidification on marine fauna and ecosystem processes. – ICES Journal of Marine Science, 65: 414–432.

Guest Speaker Reflection

Nancy Drumheller’s presentation was a nice addition to the course, because it obviously falls under the umbrella of our overall carbon footprint and anthropogenic influence on the world. I was already aware that not enough people recycle- I think anyone would probably admit to that. Rather, I found it interesting that in 2010, Americans generated about 250 million tons of trash and recycled and composted over 85 million tons of this material, equivalent to a 34.1 percent recycling rate. Although 34.1 percent is, as I pointed out, not enough, it was a surprisingly high percentage in my mind. That gave me hope that this educational program has potential, and that Americans can improve this percentage in the future.

I also was interested in seeing the diagrams and layout of “sanitary landfills,” which, surprisingly, once full, can be covered and used for other uses. I looked into it and found out that we have a big park seated on a sanitary landfill here in VA…”Mount Trashmore.” It spans 165 acres, and includes playground equipment, sports areas, trails, fishing, and more.



I think that, despite numerous recycling programs (such as curbside recycling, drop-off recycling, electronic recycling, and more), there seems to still be an overall lack of enthusiasm for recycling. I remember that when I was younger, I was taught about recycling in school, and I recognized its importance for the Earth. Nowadays, it seems that common sense environmental programs may not be getting support because of negative conditioning from politicians. The fact that elected officials who are campaigning are ballsy enough to reject global warming, yet still be respected, is a testament to the spread of ignorance across the masses…a dumbing down of our society, if you will. If we don’t need to care about CO2 levels, or care that huge catastrophes like oil spills are hurting our environment, why take the time to recycle? Other than being conditioned to think that the Earth can take care of itself, I think other people don’t recycle due to apathy…that’s probably the main reason 18-25 year olds are lacking in the department as a whole. Many young adults are only focused on completing their education or furthering themselves in the workforce — mainly individualistic, short-term goals. To be honest, I think VCU is combating that effectively, by making students almost go out of their way not to recycle.

But the question remains, why don’t people recycle, even if they have the means to do so? A study was done in Australia on just this subject – it went into what drove people to recycle or not. Their model of measuring people’s characteristics on this subject came from the Theory of Planned Behavior:  intention (readiness to act) to perform a behavior (recycling) is the most important determinant of behavior. Sounds obvious, but intention, in turn, is predicted by three precursors: attitudes (positive or negative evaluations about performing the behavior – is it a pain to do? Is the juice worth the squeeze?), subjective norms (perceived pressure and expectations of important others to either perform or not perform the behavior — will I look good if I recycle?), and perceived behavioral control –perceived control over performing the behavior. One of their main conclusions dealt with intention, which was directly affected by attitude, subjective norm, self-identity, and past behavior. They also concluded that pressure from others was a min contributor to recycling (White et all, 786). Despite all the big words and phrases that a study like this contains, I think the overall message, while predictable, really shows the kind of psychology CVWMA needs to tap into.

CVWMA has a bit of a challenge for sure, when it comes to reaching out to people. As far as young adults go, most don’t own their own homes, therefore don’t own their own recycling bins…so recycling becomes an “out of sight, out of mind” operation. Like I said though, VCU makes it easy to recycle, so CVWMA really doesn’t have to worry about on-campus recycling. They should continue to try to get themselves TV spots, and have commercials like they did with Nutsey. If all else fails, having penalties (like Ann described she encountered living in NY) for not recycling could be an idea. Also, when I was stationed in California, there is a recycling tax on all canned and bottled goods, which you can only get back if you recycle the item. Sometime people need a little…persuasion to do the right thing. In the end, their barriers are simply to remind people about recycling, and convincing them that it is worth their time.

White, Katherine M., and Melissa K. Hyde. “The Role of Self-Perceptions in the Prediction of Household Recycling Behavior in Australia.” Environment and Behavior 44.6 (2012): 785-799. Print.

Data Analysis/Excel Presentation Follow-Up

As far as the presentations have gone, I think we would all agree that this one was everyone’s weakest so far, although we didn’t do bad or anything. As far as Mariah (or Maria) and I go, I think we were not quite experts on all of the information yet–we were pretty good at manipulating Excel, but as far as explaining the meaning of the graphs, or going more into what “null hypotheses” are, I think we have room for improvement. I guess, for one thing, we had a lack of “ownership” of the slides. We may have ordered them differently, or applied different pacing had we made the Powerpoint ourselves (I’m glad we didn’t have to go through making another Powerpoint, don’t get me wrong! haha). I think it was slightly debilitating to have to switch back and forth from each other every other slide also, it slowed the momentum and smoothness down I believe.

For our strengths, I would say we still maintained a level of professionalism, and tried to engage our peers and instructors effectively. I think we did a good job, like I said, actually using the functions of Excel. I personally prefer doing it all in real time with the program on the screen, as the viewers are doing it themselves.

Our preparation involved Mariah and I meeting in the library and do going through each slide, as well as going through all the functions on Excel we were going to have to teach. There were a couple things we had to iron out, like how to make a scatter plot, but we figured it out. We discussed a few of the information slides, and looked up definitions of some terms, like “null hypothesis” and “t-test” in order to try and be able to explain them in plain words to the audience. We also made sure we knew which slides each of us were going to do (basically every other slide, with a couple exceptions).

I think my, as well as Mariah, Emily, and Ann’s presentation skills have all improved since our carbon cycling presentations. Personally, I already have an idea of the vibe that I will be teaching this in at Highland Springs, so there are far less unknowns to get worried about. I think the fact that we have all presented two other presentations to the class helped us out, although this time, I think we may not have been as confident with the material, to be honest.

I will engage my audience in understanding by continually making sure nobody gets left behind while manipulating the data in Excel. I think that is the biggest possible problem, because if somebody gets left behind, or gets lost, they may give up or zone out. An article I found, entitled The Efficacy of Collaborative Learning Groups in an Undergraduate Statistics Course was surprisingly relevant to teaching our groups of high school students (after all, these kids are not far off from college, if they are pursuing it). Despite the fact that numerous majors, such as science, psychology, and others, require their students to undertake a course dealing with statistics, it is a subject that continues to be a challenge for faculty to teach. They have found that collaborate learning, that is, groups of two or three students, working toward an understanding of the material is effective (Delucchi 244). In our case, the audience we will be teaching will be an entire classroom, which isn’t optimal of course. I feel like, in order to use the methods that this study used, we would have to have students for a prolonged periods of time (like a semester) in order to reallt be able to teach them statistics, an experiment will small group learning. I suppose that’s not our job anyway–I am sure we will at least give them a basic understanding of the data that will give them a leg-up in their future coursework.


I thought the other group’s presentation was similar to ours, in that they presented the material well, but were not experts on the “little details,” like explaining the graphs, or using appropriate transitions and pacing. I the other group, like us, got a little nervous having to actually use Excel while everyone watched, not wanting to make a little mistake. We will do fine when our time come to teach the kids though, I am confident of that. We did good jobs on our last two presentations, after all.

Michael Delucchi (2006): The Efficacy of Collaborative Learning Groups in an Undergraduate Statistics Course, College Teaching, 54:2, 244-248

Student’s Choice

I have been happy with the content of this course so far. I would say that what I have enjoyed most was presenting our information to Highland Springs high school. It seemed like the epitome of this course in way, to pass on the information we learned, after initially presenting it to our instructors and peers. Also, due to the courses I have taken for the last couple years, I have not had to make a PowerPoint. I was glad that I was forced to re-learn how to make one, as well as make a good one to boot. Thinking about how to present the information to the students, via my words as well as the images in my PowerPoint, was a great thinking exercise. It made it more than just an assignment for a grade, but rather a real teaching experience. That was great for me, because I intend to teach science in the future. I also am glad that we have gone over Excel…honestly, I haven’t used it for statistics since a statistics course I took in 2006. It was a much needed “wake up.” I look forward to teaching the students how to manipulate and appreciate the program.

As far as what I feel could be improved, I would only say that it would be nice to have a little better idea of what will be going on as far as the poster goes. I know we will being getting more into that as the time gets closer to complete it, but I am interested in seeing the rubric. I  Are we going to end up presenting it anywhere?

This course and the experience/ knowledge I have gained from is very pertinent for my career goal, which is teaching middle school/ high school science. I feel that I am getting a leg up with experience before I end up student teaching for Richmond City schools. I am planning on doing the Teach for Change program, and the recruiter wanted me to take this course specifically! It fulfills numerous requirements, such as research and earth science. In future teaching interviews, or even my interview for the Teach for Change/ Masters in Education program here, I am sure that they will recognize this course, and be impressed with the fact that I took it. It is a perfect fit for Science education.

As far as “flaws” in our class experiment go, I am wondering whether the fact that the weather has be very cold is becoming a variable? If the Rice Center mesocosms are getting covered in ice, I would think that would mean less photosynthesis in the sunny mesocosm, and less allochthonous carbon carbon falling into the forested mesocosm. Since the vernal pools is kind of a more “dynamic” environment, with more organisms moving through it, and it being bigger, I wonder if it is being affected differently by the weather than the mesocosms? I guess we would consider the vernal pool a macrocosm?


I decided to look into vernal pools, and I found this scholarly article entitled, Temporal and Spacial Patterns of Eukaryotic and Bacterial Communities Found in Vernal Pools . Vernal pools are, in fact, highly dynamic, and exhibit changes in microbial activity (eukaryotic and bacterial) in response to many abiotic factors. In one survey of a vernal pool that came from melted snow, 76% of the identified biota were protists or bacteria, showing that these organisms dominate temporary water bodies in terms of both species richness and diversity. Vernal pools also can have a very varied physiochemical nature, which can lead to short term and long-term difference in their waters (Carrino-Kyker, Swanson 1). To me, this shows that the activity, and hence, carbon consumption in a particular vernal pool could be drastically different in only a matter of weeks. I am interested to compare the data from our vernal pool to the data to past semesters. I am convinced that our odd weather patterns will have an effect on carbon consumption in our vernal pool…as well as our sunny/ forested mesocosms.

All in all, I am looking forward to what we have left in this course, in terms of learning how to do our research and organize it, as well as finish teaching the high schoolers.

Carrino-Kyker, Sarah R. and Swanson, Andrew K. “Temporal and Spatial Patterns of Eukaryotic and Bacterial Communities Found in Vernal Pools.” Applied Environmental Microbiology 74 (2008): n. pag. American Society for Microbiology. Web. 26 Mar. 2013.

Hypotheses for Carbon Consumption Experiment

At the beginning of this course, I would have been hard-pressed to be able to effectively describe the carbon cycle…let alone make an educated guess as to which of our three samples would indeed turn out to be the sample with the highest rate of DOC consumption. Having made a couple presentations, been taught by the instructors, and read the various scholarly papers on the subject thus far, I feel that we are all fully able to make hypotheses on the subject. If I turn out to be totally off the mark, that’s okay; at least I will be able to articulate my hypothesis in a coherent manner (I hope!)

The article I read, entitled allochthonous and autochthonous organic matter in an urban tropical estuarine area of northeastern Brazil, caught my eye because it seemed different, and I wondered if it could be an additional piece of information to help me form my hypothesis.

What really hit me during this article was when it  talked about the port of Recife, which is located in Brazil. Here, the key factors determining organic matter levels are the inputs of total organic carbon and dissolved inorganic nutrients, with the reservoir remaining under anthropogenic pressure. Primary productivity was higher during the dry season, which was due to increased water clarity, as nutrients were abundant throughout the year. The main sources of organic matter in the studied area were allochthonous, which seem odd to me, because I googled a picture of the port.

port of Recife brazil

Port of Recife brazil (

It is out in plain sunlight, not really covered by trees (Paulo, J.G et all). It is somewhat, in a way, similar to a vernal pool I think, being boxed in, despite being next to the ocean. Hopefully I’m not over-thinking this, but I thought that it may be a possibility that since the article placed such high emphasis on allocthonous inputs of carbon, there must be a decent amount of diversity of organisms, or consumers of all this allocthonous and  autochthonous carbon it could take in. Originally, I would have thought a place like this would reallyonly rely on autochthonous carbon, instead of having a heavy relation with allochthonous  carbon.

Hypothesis 1: The vernal pool samples will exhibit the highest DOC consumption, as compared to the sunny and forest mesocosms. I am mostly thinking this because, along with my interpretation of the article above, (which seemed to put a high emphasis on allochthonous carbon, despite also taking in lots of direct sunlight), I feel that the amount of sunlight the vernal pool gets is probably similar to the sunny mesocosm (not as much, but close – it’s not completely covered by shade), plus it has a high amount of allocthonous carbon – (all the organisms, eggs, plants, etc that we saw). This area probably has both autotrophic and heterotrophic mechanisms working at a profficient rate. I think this will put it above the sunny and shaded mesocosms in terms of DOC consumption.

Hypothesis 2: The forested mesocosm will have the lowest rate of DOC consumption. I am making this statement because of my understanding of the traditional though of “crunchy” carbon being harder to be cycled than “slimey, slurpy” carbon. What we went over in class may point to another direction than what I initially thought, but it makes sense to me that allocthonous carbon would be harder to break down, due to its harder structure than carbon from algae.

Hypothesis 3: Judging by what I put as my last two hypotheses, you may have guessed that I am putting sunny in the middle of the other two, in terms of DOC consumption. It, unlike the forested mesocosm, enjoys the softer autochthonous carbon, which I think is probably easier to process and pass on.  Unlike the vernal pool though, it may lack a variety of important allocthonous factors.

Paulo, J.G. et all. “allochthonous and autochthonous organic matter in an urban tropical estuarine area of northeastern Brazil.” Journalof Coastal Research 64 (2011): 1801. Print.

Carbon Cycling in the News

As far as the current events we have touched on go, such as many of the many impacts a build up of carbon is having on global warming goes, it is hard to quantify them into groups of importance. I think that most of us will put the blanket issue of global warming at the forefront, since its impacts are easy to see and discuss with others. This issue is of importance to me and my peers because it is an issue that gets worse with time. It becomes more important and relevant to teach our students about its intricacies and ramifications as we get older. High school is the perfect time to get these basic messages across.

This somewhat recent occurrence is humorous! Nude bike riders protested the poor air quality in Mexico, CO2, being one of their main problems.

Mexico Pollution Protest

As silly as this protest seemed, I think the painted pictures of damaged organs were clever. I think that we can ALL agree that it is at least a good thing that air pollution and carbon have at least some media attention.

This first article, from Yahoo! News, is a politically-charged one. “The dangers of carbon dioxide? Tell that to a plant, how dangerous carbon dioxide is,” said Rick Santorum talking to an audience during the Republican primaries for this past election. This article went on to tell how Santorum told the audience to “trust” him on this environmental issue. Now, we are all smacking our faces with our hands at the absurdity of this, but the cold fact of the matter is that both parties use these talking points to pander votes.
This second little bit will be sure to boil your blood…in it, supporters of Mitt Romney “prove” global warming is a hoax by chanting “U.S.A.” at a protestor holding an “End Climate Silence” sign
I think that clip is important, because it shows the level of ignorance that many people have when it comes to the carbon cycle and climate change as a whole…and it’s not just Republicans, unfortunately. Kids of high school age see these types of things, and get influenced and persuaded by these, however absurd, political talking points/ views.

Another article that I found that dealt with global warming was entitled, “Getting Schools Involved in Global Warming Issues.” I found it on the National Geographic website, and since I have always followed their publicans, I was interested. One particular part of the article concerned us directly, the teaching of the carbon cycle to youth. It talked about how this is a difficult and hard subject to teach adequately to many age groups, but it is is definitely possible, as we know, to help kids learn the basics. If kids can grasp these concepts at a basic level while they are young, it will serve as a stepping stone for their minds as they age, because they will be able to apply the more complicated aspects of it later in life. (Bratcher, 1). Luckily, National Geographic is a reliable source of information, and what they presented is the type of thing we have already discussed and agreed on ourselves.

Other than global warming, which may be something that is too “far off” for many students to grasp, I felt that the fact the terrestrial carbon systems being overlooked was the next highest thing on our charts. We deal with this dynamic directly when we are teaching the kids about the mesocosms that are based off them. If the students cannot grasp an initial idea of what an inland water system is, and how it is important to look into, our mesocosm experiments are virtually worthless. This, of course, is also important to us as college students, because future students will become future scientists, and they need to be aware of any misconceptions that have been going on so that they may overcome them.

Looking back to a previous week, The article we read entitled, “Plumbing the Global Carbon Cycle: Integrating Inland Waters into the Terrestrial Carbon Budget” quoted Aldo Leopold as describing the inland water systems as “gutters down which flow the ruins of continents’’ (Cole et all, 178). I think that this was a fantastic quotation when describing the importance of inland water systems. Although their presence has, historically, been overlooked in the data that comprises the differing levels of carbon in the reservoirs, that does not mean that it’s importance will always be overlooked. Teaching high schoolers, who will soon be heading off to college…many to a science-related major…is important so that we can set them up for success.

A piece of primary literature that I found also dealt with teaching the carbon cycle, it is entitled, “Teaching Assignments and the Carbon Cycle Learning Progression.” This one went more into depth in how to deal with students. It spoke of how students use their primary discourse skills to explain to themselves how the world actually works. A students learn more, they try to fit this new information into their pre-existing narratives. The problem that remains is that all this new information, most times, is fit into their personal narratives, instead of reshaping how they think entirely (Mohan et all, 4). This is a concept that we have talked about in class, as well as when our guest speaker, Dr. Edmonson, came to give us that presentation that one day. The article had a great graphic that went along with this line of thinking:


This graphic, by Steve Greenburg, encompasses the carbon cycle in the news (as far as politics go) in my opinion.

All in all, to point out what I did not know before this course would be far too much. What I did know was that the issue was a hot topic issue, mostly for political reasons. Now I know the information, as taught from the university level, and I feel far more “in the know.” I also did not fully understand the more complex nature between photosynthesis and respiration. To be honest, the most basic thing I learned was that carbon, being taken in through a plant’s stomata, is the vehicle for the plant to gain more biomass. Before this course, I would have explained “how a plant grows” in a similar fashion to the Harvard graduates we watched on that video. I am glad that we will be able to teach this information to an age group that can not only understand the basics of it, but apply them in the future.