The Basics of the Carbon Cycle

The Carbon Cycle

The carbon cycle is the way carbon is distributed in the earth.

In the image, you can see the flow of carbon between land, atmosphere, and ocean. The numbers show, in gigatons of carbon per year, the natural fluxes of carbon (the yellow numbers), the human contributions (red numbers), and stored carbon (white numbers).

Releasing Carbon


Humans and other mammals breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide.

Waste and Decay

Carbon can be released into the environment through waste and decay. Animals produce solid waste products that go into the soil and water, while leaves, roots, wood and dead animals decay.


Burning fossil fuels and wood releases stored carbon into the atmosphere.

Using Carbon

The carbon that is released into the environment is used by many plants and animals. This is the part of the carbon cycle that removes carbon from the atmosphere.


Plants and algae take in carbon dioxide during photosynthesis.

The majority of photosynthesis  occurs in the oceans by algae and phytoplankton. Also, due to the large surface area of the oceans, carbon dioxide diffuses in and out in an attempt to equalize.

Shells and bones

Many sea creatures take in carbon when making shells and bones. When these animals die and sink to the ocean floor, this carbon is stored for some time.


What are your questions about the carbon cycle? What are your students’ hardest questions? We’ll be answering your queries as we explore the carbon cycle more in the next few articles.

The Physical and Metaphysical Properties of Fluorite

Fluorite is an isometric crystal composed of Calcium and Fluorine (CaF2). This mineral was first identified in 1529 and has been credited with having many healing properties. The name is derived from the Latin, fluere, meaning “to flow.” This is due to the relatively low melting point of 2557 degrees F. Fluorite is used in the steel production to decrease the viscosity of slags and eliminate impurities. It is also used in the manufacturing of some glassware and polymers and enameling cookware. Fluorite is found in many places including the U.K., Mexico, Morocco, Peru, Brazil and the U.S.

Physical Information

Color: white, green, purple, yellow, blue, gray

The color of the specimen is determined by impurities that have replaced calcium in the crystal structure and the presence of hydrocarbons (petroleum). Pure form is clear(white).

Hardness: 4

Class: Halides

Fluorescence: Many specimens are fluorescent under UV light.

The phenomenon of fluorescence received its name from this mineral.

Density/Molecular Weight: 3.18 g/cm3   /   78.07 g


Fluorite is credited with having many spiritual and physical healing properties ranging from easing the pain of arthritis to reducing nervous energy. The healing properties are largely determined by the color of the specimen.

Green absorbs excess energy, allowing for information from the subconscious to be moved to the conscious mind. Helps egocentric problems and heals stomach and intestinal illness.

Purple stimulates wisdom and the ability to discriminate, allowing for the promotion of spiritual vision. Useful in healing issues related to bones, marrow, and the spine.

White brings spiritual and mental harmony. Brings peace and strengthens awareness. Aligns all of the Chakras.

Teaching Wind Power

The interest in renewable energy has increased greatly. The US currently produces enough wind energy to power 14 million homes. Approximately 2% of our energy comes from wnd, which is double from just 3 years ago. many beleive that in 2030, 15-20% of our energy will come from wind.

The reason for the growth is partially associated with new government regulations concerning our impact on the environment. Federal and local governments are receiving pressure from voters to find alternative sources. Experts believe that if the 2030 scenerio occurs, we would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 7600 metric tons and create 200,000 jobs.

Windmills have been around for centuries to pump water and grind seeds into grain. A wind turbine is an advancement that turns an electrical generator. The force of the wind, turns the blades. the rotor turns and spins a driveshaft that is connected to an generator. the generator converts this mechanical energy in to electrical energy.

There are several variables that determine the amount of energy produced: wind speed, diameter of the rotor, density of the air, and efficiency of the turbine.

A great product for teaching wind power concepts is the Basic Turbine. The Basic Turbine is a great start for teaching about wind energy in the classroom. Visit to purchase this item. This is the most affordable and robust wind turbine kit on the market. Design blades and test your power output with a multimeter, LED bulbs, or an ultra capacitor.

The instructions that are included will show you how to build this PVC turbine, how to make blades for your wind turbine, how to use a multimeter to record electrical data and will discuss some basic wind energy science.

Solar Panels (Photovoltaic Cells)

Why are Photovoltaic Cells Black?

The dark color reduces the amount of photons reflected. Photons that are not absorbed by the panel cannot be used to produce electricity.



Solar Science Kit

Solar Science Kit


What are Photovoltaic Cells Made From?

Silicon is the major material in the cells. Pure silicon crystals are poor conductors of electricity. Other elements are added to the silicon, such as, phosphorus and boron. When the energy from the sun hits the cell, the electrons in the elements begin to move around. The sun causes the panel to have a positive and negative side. This electrical difference causes electrons to flow through a diode.

What Factors Affect the Production of a Solar Cell?

The factors that most affect the production of a solar cells are the angle of the panel in relation to the sun, the peak wattage, the light intensity and the hours of sun exposure.

How is Wattage (or Power) Calculated?

The formula for power is Power=Current X Voltage. Power is measured in watts, current in amperes and voltage in volts.

The Solar Science Kit has a small motor, photovoltaic cell and disc that works well in demonstrating this in a classroom or home setting.

Energy Conservation, Conversion, and Windmills

What is a Generator?

When a magnet moves toward a metal object, the electrons in the metal move. As a result, when a magnet moves near a copper wire, electrons in the copper move. Generators use this principle to convert mechanical energy (the rotation of a wire coil,or rotor around a magnet) into an electrical current (electrons flowing through the wire). A motor performs the opposite function by converting electrical energy into mechanical energy. For the most part, all generators work the same. The item that separates them is, “What turns the rotor?”

Windmill Generator Kit

Windmill Generator Kit

Energy Conversion in a Windmill

Obviously, in a windmill, the wind is rotating the wire coil around the magnet. This generator is taking the kinetic energy from the wind and converting it to electrical energy.

Windmills are rated based on output power (watts), working voltage (volts), start up windspeed (mph), survival wind speed (mph), rated rotation of the blades (rpm) and the diameter of the blades (also called the rotor). In general, the larger the rotor diameter the more wind that is intercepted and the more electricity produced. There are do-it-yourself plans available for building your own windmill. No waste or pollution is produced during this process.

When discussing this in the classroom or entertaining your children on the weekend, there are some small demonstration kits available. The Windmill Generator from 4M Kidz Labz TM is an excellent activity.