Carbon Uses in Everyday Life: Lesson for Kids Video

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  • 0:02 Abundant and Useful
  • 0:51 Carbon, Naturally
  • 2:25 Artifical Carbon
  • 3:05 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Nick Rogers
Carbon is the fundamental basis for all life on Earth. It's also used in many ways you may not have realized! Learn about many of the fascinating ways we use carbon in our everyday lives.

Abundant and Useful

We've known about carbon since ancient times. It occurs in plant life and all living things. Whenever a fire is burned, the black soot that's produced is a form of carbon. In fact, its name comes from this; the Latin word for charcoal is carbo. Today, there are many carbon products you may be familiar with, which include petroleum (in other words, gasoline) and plastics. Whenever we fill our cars with gas, we're pumping them full of carbon!

All organic, or living, things on Earth are made of carbon. Your organs, cells, and internal systems all depend on carbon to exist. Carbon has a unique structure that helps it to bond easily with other atoms and make up larger complicated molecules. This structure helps it play a fundamental role in all life on Earth.

Carbon, Naturally

There are three main types of pure carbon that occur naturally, and they make up a majority of the carbon that we interact with every day: amorphous carbon, graphite, and diamonds. The only difference between these three compounds chemically is their crystal structure!

Diamonds are probably the best known form of carbon, but you may have not have realized that they're made of the same stuff as firewood! The only difference between a brick of charcoal and a diamond is the internal organization of its carbon molecules (and its price tag!). Diamonds are one of the hardest substances known to man, and they're used for special purpose drill bits as well as wedding rings.

Amorphous carbon has no crystal structure. It's formed when carbon is burned, but there isn't enough oxygen present to burn completely. Sometimes we call this form carbon black or lampblack, due to its dark black color. It's used to create inks and paints and is also occasionally used in the insides of batteries.

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