Description: This is an interdisciplinary activity for grades 9 – 12, revolving around use of biochar to mitigate climate change and promote sustainable agriculture / horticulture. It involves climate science, plant science, and chemistry. Advanced students will also encounter some elementary combustion science and thermodynamics, soil science, and botany. The activity includes hands-on construction and use of a device to make biochar, as well as planning and conducting a controlled experiment to test the effects of biochar on plants in their native soil.
Students refresh their understanding of carbon cycle and learn how burning of fossil fuels upset the natural balance, leading to global warming. They will be introduced to biochar and understand how using biochar can help sequester carbon to restore the balance. They will construct pyrolyzer from simple materials and use it to make biochar themselves, then conduct a controlled experiment to see the effect of biochar on plant growth. They will be introduced to the concept of sustainable use of biomass and see its relevance to biochar.
Students understand the importance of the carbon cycle the ecosystem.
Students understand the role biochar can play in reducing global warming.
Students learn how to make and use biochar in a sustainable way.
Optional for advanced students: Students understand heat movement and qualitatively different kinds of combustion.
Optional for advanced students: Students understand soil as a complex ecosystem.
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A follow on kit for adults is in the planning stages.
These activity kits are based on the Open Source & Co-Creation models.