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AoS 1: Carbon and Nitrogen Cycles

Full Day
Book Program
Year Levels
Unit 1 — How are Earth’s Dynamic Systems Interconnected to Support Life?


Carbon is an element present in all living things. The total amount of Carbon on the earth does not change. Instead the element changes by cycling between living and non-living things.

One important nutrient essential to living things is Nitrogen. It exists in abundance in the atmosphere as Nitrogen gas. However, it needs to be fixed to be in a useable form for living things. Nitrogen cycles through an ecosystem and also moves between living and non-living things.

Students will investigate both the Carbon and Nitrogen cycles, looking at how these elements cycle through Earth’s four systems – the atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere.

Prior Knowledge

No prior knowledge necessary.

Learning Intentions

In this program students will:

  • Relate their findings on CO2 levels in the atmosphere and in different water levels to their knowledge of the Carbon Cycle
  • Relate their findings on Nitrate levels in soils and water samples to their knowledge of the Nitrogen cycle
  • Discuss natural and anthropogenic sources of Carbon and Nitrogen
  • Discuss the impacts of changing levels of Carbon Dioxide and Nitrates on different Ecosystems


Students will:

  • Use the Pascoe sensors to measure the levels of CO2 in various locations around Ecolinc
  • Use the CO2 test kits to measure the level of CO2 in various water samples
  • Determine the nitrogen content of various water samples as NO3
  • Extract nitrogen from different soil samples and measure the levels of nitrates

VCE links

Earth’s systems thinking

  • Natural interactions between Earth’s four systems – the atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere – that support and are affected by the movement of energy and matter between local and global ecosystems.