Climate Training Activities: Sink or Source

This activity helps explain the carbon cycle and the imbalance in the carbon cycle. A quick look at some of the largest carbon sources helps visitors understand that the imbalance is anthropogenic and leads to important discussions about actions we can take to reduce our carbon footprint. This activity is designed for adults, families, or kids ages 9 and older with their families. Some younger children have been engaged by this activity and can help with sorting.

How to use these materials:

Start by opening the document titled ‘guide to sink or source.’ There you will find basic information, a description of all the files, and other resources you need to assemble the activities.

Keep in touch!

All of the activities developed by the New England Aquarium under the NOAA Climate Change Collaborative are available for free use by non-profit organizations. To aid us in future development, please tell us a bit about you and how you intend to use the activities. Click here.

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1 Comment

Sylvia Scharf

We used the original sink or source activity as a prototype and made another version that is a bit more durable for our large audience. I have had a lot of success using the sink or source cards. We have 7 cards...2 natural sources, 2 anthropogenic sources, and 3 natural sinks.

Rather than play this out as a "game" I preset the cards with all the natural sources and sinks and talk about how this has been going on for millions of years and that the earth had a comfortable balance between CO2 sources and sinks creating an atmosphere that made life possible on our planet. Then I shift the conversation saying "along comes the industrial revolutions and we build power plants that are burning fossil fuels and we cut down a lot of forests" I swap the power plant card for the forest card. "And then along comes modern transportation fueled by fossil fuels and we've degraded some of our lakes and streams." I swap the photo of a traffic jam for the lakes and streams card leaving only the oceans as the biggest sink to absorb all this excess CO2. We've disrupted the balance the earth had for millions of years and our atmosphere is growing into an ever thickening heat trapping blanket and the oceans are absorbing much of this excess CO2 changing ocean chemistry. So...What are some things we can do to reduce our production of CO2 going into the atmosphere?

And the conversation continues from there to solutions. We now have 4 different sets of cards that our volunteers can choose from when using this interactive. The sink and source set, another set on energy production, and a set on energy conservation solutions. We also expanded and added a fourth set of cards based on our Seafood Watch sustainable seafood messaging. We have found that the prop by itself draws the attention of the visitors and then the volunteer working at that station can choose which conservation messaging they want to focus on by choosing the set of cards to work with.

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