Biogeochemical Cycles Game Handout (doc

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Chemical Cycle Activity

Introduction:

Chemicals in the environment are constantly moving. Plants use carbon dioxide and sunlight to make their food (sugar) through

photosynthesis

. Animals and plants get their energy through

respiration

, which requires them to use oxygen from the atmosphere and release carbon dioxide.

When you breathe in, you are getting oxygen from the air and when you breathe out, you are releasing carbon dioxide.

Other chemicals also travel around an environment. When animals excrete waste (go to the bathroom) or die, they are decomposed nitrogen gas is released into the atmosphere. Plants can take up this nitrogen with the help of other bacteria. Lastly, when animals eat plants, they get the nitrogen passed to their bodies. Carbon is also passed directly from plants to animals when animals eat the plants.

Other chemicals are passed directly between plants and animals. When an animal dies, nutrients

(like phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sulfur) in its body decompose and become the dirt. Plants can take in these nutrients from the dirt through their roots.

Today you will be doing an activity that shows how different chemicals are cycled (passed around in a circle) through the atmosphere, plants, and animals.

Activity Instructions:

Each group represents an ecosystem with an atmosphere, plants, and animals. Two people will be different plants. One will be a bush: and the other will be a maple tree:

Two other people will be animals. One will be a rabbit: and the other will be a bird:

The last two people (or one person if there are only 5 people) will be the atmosphere:

Playing the Game!

- One person rolls a die (one of the dice).

- Look below under “Dice Roll Moves” at the number that comes up. Each sub-group (animals, plants, atmosphere) should trade the indicated cards. Only 2 sub-groups will trade at a time!

- When you get a card, circle the picture of your part of the ecosystem on it. For example, if the atmosphere receives and O

2

card, you should circle the sun & cloud picture in the first row. If you do not have the card that is asked for, then don’t give anything, but still receive what is given to you.

- Once the people who received cards have circled the picture on their cards, then roll the dice again. Every time you receive a card, circle your picture in the next row.

Dice Roll Moves:

1) Plants: Give O

2

to the sky

Sky: Give CO

2

and N to the plants

2) Animals: Give CO

2

and N to the sky

Sky: Give O

2

to the animals

3) Plants: Give N and C to the animals

Animals: Give nutrients to the plants

4) Plants: Give O

2

to the sky

Sky: Give CO

2

and N to the plants

5) Animals: Give CO

2

and N to the sky

Sky: Give O

2

to the animals

6) Plants: Give N and C to the animals

Animals: Give nutrients to the plants

When the activity is over, each person should keep their cards and fill in the part of the table below. Write down the names of all of the places (animals, plants, atmosphere) that each chemical went through.

When you are done filling in your part, fill in the rest of the table using the information from your group.

Chemical Type

Questions:

1) Pick one chemical and write down all of the places that that chemical went to below:

Chemical:___________

Places the chemical went to:

2) Using the diagram below and draw arrows showing how the chemical you chose moves in a cycle through the environment. Remember that carbon (C) and oxygen (O) separately and in the form of CO

2

. You can look the instructions for the cycle moves you did in the activity to help you.

3) Now work as a group to draw the cycles of ALL the chemicals that were in the activity. At the end, the group that can put a correct diagram on the board gets a prize (a really good one!).

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