Modeling allows us to make our own sense of what and why something is happening. Conceptual models are shared and explicit representations or analogies of phenomena and are used by scientists to help them understand the world around us. Models are used in all areas of science and offer external versions of mental concepts. Models are not a perfect representation; they are a simplified version of a system that highlights certain areas while ignoring others.
Carbon is an element that is present in all living things, and is a part of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. It is constantly recycled on our planet, moving from the atmosphere to living things and back to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Carbon can also be passed between living things when one organism eats another. Known as the Carbon Cycle, this recycling process is composed of a number of steps that cycle carbon through the biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere.
Create your own Carbon Cycle Diagram - Combustion, Photosynthesis, Respiration, Decomposition
The Carbon Cycle
OceanThe ocean has a large store of carbon dioxide. Some of the dissolved carbon dioxide is used in photosynthesis by organisms like phytoplankton.
Some animals in the ocean convert carbon in their diet to calcium carbonate to make their shells. These organisms fall to the seabed, build up, and form limestone. This can be exposed over time and the carbon released back into the atmosphere through weathering.
CombustionAKA burning. Combustion is used in many areas of society. The burning of fossil fuels is used in most forms of transportation and the generation of electricity. The word equation for combustion is fuel + oxygen → carbon dioxide + water.
Animal RespirationThis is a reaction that takes place in all living things. Energy is released from glucose using oxygen. The products of this reaction are carbon dioxide and water. The equation for aerobic respiration is C6H12O6 + 6O2 → 6CO2 + 6H2O (+ energy).
PhotosynthesisThis is the process used by plants to create food. Plants use sunlight to synthesize (combine) water and carbon dioxide within cells that contain chlorophyll. The equation is 6CO2 + 6H2O → C6H12O6 + 6O2.
DecompositionThe process of breaking down organic matter by other living organisms such as worms, bacteria, and fungi. Decomposers release the carbon into the atmosphere through respiration.
Plant RespirationAs well as photosynthesizing, plants respire. This is the same process that takes place in animals.