Team Lonestar SAS (Serious About Science) Leslie Lopez, Jordan Ferris, Tina Vick, and Chris Mihealsick (me)!

Our Group Research Plan Topic: Carbon Storage and Forest Plants

Driving Questions: How much carbon is really sequestered in a hectare of rainforest? What type of vegetation is most appropriate and feasible to use for carbon offset purchasing to mitigate climate change?

Plan: Teachers will use the TEAM protocol to calculate the carbon stored in a small sample area of rainforest, disturbed rainforest, and at a banana or coffee plantation. The small sample area values will be extrapolated to determine carbon stored for a hectare of each of the three categories of land use. Students in Texas will then use the same protocols to calculate the amount of carbon stored in a hectare of native Texas forest, “disturbed” forest, and farmland or ranch land. Students will compare the data they collected with tropical data, and determine the effects of both climate and land use type on the ability of an ecosystem to sequester carbon. Students will then need to determine the most feasible type of land to use for purchasing carbon offsets as a tool to mitigate climate change. Additionally, students will research companies that purchase carbon offsets (BP’s “Target Neutral”, Costa Rica’s “Nature Air” Airline), determine what they do to purchase them, and calculate if the company is actually offsetting as much carbon as they claim based on student and teacher carbon capture data.

Student Learning Goals of Developed Student Project:
An inquiry approach will be used throughout this project. Students will be in charge of designing experimental procedures to calculate the total carbon stored in different Texas environments using the TEAM protocol. Using collected data, students will analyze the connection between climate type, land use, and the ability of each ecosystem to sequester carbon. Finally, students will evaluate the economics and practicality of allowing different land areas to be purchased for carbon offset purposes.


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