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Ecosystems, Organisms: Life and Growth


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Biology


180 minutes

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - West, Oregon


Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides


This lesson plan is licensed under Creative Commons.

Creative Commons License

Carbon Sequestration on Campus

Created By Teacher:
Last Updated:
Dec 4, 2023
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In this lesson, students learn about carbon sequestration and measure trees on their campus to assess the amount of carbon they contain.

Step 1 - Inquire: Students use their knowledge of photosynthesis to consider how human activities, specifically land use, have disrupted the carbon cycle.

Step 2 - Investigate: Students take a walk to select a tree on campus or in the neighborhood, measure the DBH of their tree, and enter their data onto a spreadsheet to obtain the biomass and mass of carbon sequestered.

Step 3 - Inspire: Students discuss the cultural value of forests and their ability to act as carbon sinks and take action by choosing to protect trees through non-profit advocacy groups or by educating others.

Accompanying Teaching Materials
Teaching Tips


  • Students engage in a field-based lab exercise. 

  • Students practice using a spreadsheet, the growth equation, and Euler’s number.

  • Students use forestry tools to take measurements and obtain data.

  • Students have choice and voice in demonstrating their learning.

  • A thorough Teacher Answer Key provides examples and support.

  • This lesson plan can be paired with the lesson Ocean Acidification and Razor Clams in Oregon, as a solutions-based follow-up.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Teachers can identify the height at which DBH is measured somewhere in their classroom before students measure their trees outdoors so students can find where 4.5 feet is on their own body.

  • Teachers and students will need to be able to identify tree species (to family in most cases) on their campus.

    • An online source that may be helpful is iNaturalist.

    • In addition, phone apps for plant identification are available with varying degrees of accuracy.

    • If the tree species cannot be identified, select a different tree.

  • Students should understand photosynthesis as a metabolic process converting carbon dioxide in the air to glucose and then to cellulose.

  • Students should have familiarity with forest structure, interdependency and relationships within food webs, ecosystem services, and the concept of ecological succession.

  • If students are new to using spreadsheets, it is helpful if the teacher models step-by-step movements on the spreadsheet.


  • The choice board includes three options involving advocacy and contacting outside organizations, two options involving technology and media, and two options for paper-based communication.

  • Students or instructors may review the updated generalized biomass equations for North American tree species for more background information on the development of the biomass equations. This is the most recent update to the allometric biomass equations used by the USFS and other biologists.

  • Students who want to understand how the equations use Euler’s number e, exponents, and logarithms, and how those can be applied to the biomass equations used in this lesson can use these videos:
Scientist Notes

With the use of this lesson, students will learn how to calculate the amount of carbon that various tree species store and how important forests are in the process of sequestering carbon. The lesson also emphasizes the important functions provided by forest ecosystems and how they have helped people maintain their way of life. Additionally, the lesson gives students the opportunity to study the global carbon cycle, the function of photosynthesis in the process, and how the cycle relates to climate change. We fact-checked all the materials, and the lesson passed our science review.


Note On Standards:

This lesson is aligned to Oregon standards. Review the aligned standards directly in the lesson plan document and teacher slideshow.

Discover more on the Oregon Climate Education Hub.
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  • Carbon sequestration is so important! I'm glad that there's an interactive lesson on this topic! 😊😊
    2 months ago