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9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Chemistry, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences, Engineering

Resource Types

  • Lesson Plan, Four 50-minute class periods
  • Worksheet
  • Article
  • Data

Regional Focus



Google Slides, PDF

Solving the Carbon Dioxide Problem

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  • In this lesson, students will research climate solutions by sector, investigate sources and sinks of greenhouse gases, and create a plan to remove 1,000 gigatons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by 2100.
  • Students will use resources from Project Drawdown and work collaboratively in groups to write a plan and support it with quantitative evidence and reasoning.
Teaching Tips


  • The focus on solutions in this lesson empowers students and sets a hopeful tone for the climate change discussion.
  • The suggested grouping allows many different students to work together.

 Additional Prerequisites

  • Some students may need the terms anthropogenic, photosynthesis, biomass, degraded land, agroforestry, aquaculture, nascent, fossil fuels, and others defined before starting the lesson.
  • It may benefit students to precede this lesson with a unit about the carbon cycle, the greenhouse effect, and climate change.


  • Language arts classes can connect the claim, evidence, and reasoning format and the typical persuasive essay format.
  • Speech students can give a persuasive speech about why their plan is the best.
  • Students can choose a solution that is feasible in their community and write a proposal for their local government or local businesses to implement it.
  • Geography students can discuss what political, environmental, or economic factors make some solutions better in certain areas than others.
  • Students can practice using the Internet and digital media such as video, audio (podcast), and digital art to publish their plans to reduce carbon emissions.
Scientist Notes
This classroom activity from UCAR (University Corporation for Atmospheric Research) Center for Science Education provides students the opportunity to analyze data in the form of infographics and graphs to learn about the sources and sinks of carbon dioxide, and allow them to develop their own theory about curbing carbon dioxide emissions.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • English Language Arts
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • RST.9-10.7 Translate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text into visual form (e.g., a table or chart) and translate information expressed visually or mathematically (e.g., in an equation) into words.
      • RST.11-12.1 Accurately cite strong and thorough evidence from the text to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to precise details for explanations or descriptions.
      • RST.11-12.4 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 11-12 texts and topics.
    • Writing: History, Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • WHST.9-10.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant sufficient textual and non-textual evidence.
      • WHST.9-10.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
      • WHST.9-10.9 Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
      • WHST.11-12.2 Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/experiments, or technical processes.
      • WHST.11-12.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
  • Mathematics
    • Number & Quantity: Quantities (9-12)
      • HSN.Q.A.2 Define appropriate quantities for the purpose of descriptive modeling.
  • Science
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • HS-ESS2-6. Develop a quantitative model to describe the cycling of carbon among the hydrosphere, atmosphere, geosphere, and biosphere.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-4. Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • HS-ETS1-1. Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants.
      • HS-ETS1-2. Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.
      • HS-ETS1-3. Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.
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