Poker Chip Model: Global Carbon Pools and Fluxes

Middle School
High School
Stand-Alone Activity

Selected by CLEANThis activity helps students visualize and model a commonly published diagram of global carbon pools and fluxes. Students create a scaled 3-D visual of global carbon pools and net fluxes between pools with anthropogenic influences. The relative sizes of the pools can be modeled with stacks of poker chips, rolled columns of printer paper or similar. The fluxes can be represented by bingo chips, pennies or similar. Supplemental discussion questions guide students through considering the forms of carbon in pools, key carbon transforming processes associated with fluxes, and the implications for climate change.

Preview Instructor Guide
Earth Science
Environmental Science
Physical Science
Carbon Cycle & Climate Change
Carbon Cycle, Climate Change, Modeling, Photosynthesis, Respiration, Combustion
Prior Knowledge
Basic understanding of the global carbon cycle, forms of carbon in various pools, and types of fluxes. Familiarity with units of mass, especially the gigatonne (Gt)
Time Required
Two 50-minute class periods (including discussion)
Required Supplies
Version 1: Poker chips, bingo chips, CDs or DVDs, drawstring bag to hold all chips. Version 2: paper, ruler, tape.