Carbon Cycle Project Ideas

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

The carbon cycle describes the way carbon moves through all of Earth's systems. These projects allow students to use their preferred learning style to reveal what they have learned.

Carbon Cycle

Middle school students learn that everything is made of carbon, and it is constantly moving through all of the systems of the Earth. These projects ask students to demonstrate how carbon moves from the atmosphere to plants and animals, soil and water, and back into the air.

Grade level: 6th - 8th Grade

Carbon Cycle Dioramas

Students will make a 3-D model of the carbon cycle in a shoe box diorama.

Time: 1 week


  • shoe boxes
  • scissors
  • glue
  • cotton balls
  • construction paper
  • plastic animal figurines

Research Topics & Guiding Questions:

  • What are the major components of the carbon cycle?
  • What happens to the carbon at each stage of the cycle?


  • Divide students into pairs or small groups.
  • Have each group research the carbon cycle and create a flow chart of carbon's movement through the Earth's systems.
  • Provide each group with a shoe box and access to other miscellaneous materials.
  • Have students design a shoe box diorama that demonstrates the major components of the carbon cycle.
  • They should use arrows and labels to show the movement of carbon within their diorama.
  • Have students write a paragraph that explains the carbon cycle.
  • Have students present their project to the class.

Carbon Cycle Skit

Students will collaborate with peers to write and perform a skit about an atom of carbon moving through the carbon cycle.

Time: 1 week

Research Topics & Guiding Questions:

  • How does carbon interact with the environment?
  • How does carbon transfer from one organism to another?


  • Divide students into small groups.
  • Have students personify an atom of carbon and write a skit from carbon's point of view of its journey through the carbon cycle.
  • Have students perform their skit for the class.
  • Allow students to discuss each skit and possibly vote on the best representation.

Carbon Cycle Game

Students will work in small groups to create a board game that illustrates the carbon cycle.

Time: 1 week


  • board game template
  • index cards
  • spinner or die
  • markers

Research Topics & Guiding Questions:

  • What are some challenges to ecology related to the carbon cycle?
  • What are the equations for photosynthesis and respiration?


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