Nitrogen Cycle Lesson Plan

Instructor: Joanne Abramson

Joanne has taught middle school and high school science for more than ten years and has a master's degree in education.

The nitrogen cycle can be difficult and confusing for many high school students. Use this lesson plan to introduce the nitrogen cycle, have students visually break down the cycle step-by-step and finally, analyze the cycle to deepen their understanding.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, high school students will be able to:

  • list and describe the processes involved in the nitrogen cycle
  • analyze the steps of the nitrogen cycle
  • discuss the importance of the nitrogen cycle in farming


1-1.5 hours


  • Copies of the lesson The Nitrogen Cycle: Definition, Facts & Steps
  • Unlined white paper
  • Objects to represent the steps of the nitrogen cycle (enough for multiple groups). Some examples are:
    • Blown-up balloon with N2 written on the side
    • Jar of fertilizer
    • Mushrooms
    • Peanuts
    • Photograph of a lightning bolt
    • Toy animal

Key Vocabulary

  • Ammonification
  • Assimilation
  • Denitrification
  • Nitrification
  • Nitrogen fixation

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.9-10.4

Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 9-10 texts and topics.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.9-10.5

Analyze the structure of the relationships among concepts in a text, including relationships among key terms.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.9-10.7

Translate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text into visual form.

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