Unit 6: Nitrogen Cycling


Unit 6 provides students with an understanding of the nitrogen cycle, nitrogen’s many components, and the possible pathways it can take as it moves through the cycle. Nitrogen has much greater potential to increase atmospheric heat absorption than carbon dioxide. In addition, in many instances it is one of or the most expensive additives farmers apply to maximize crop yields. These two factors make the management of nitrogen a key components of modern agricultural production.

Unit Placement in the Course: 

This unit is designed to be taught as part of a sequence with a unit on the carbon cycle (Unit 5). While each unit can stand alone, together they provide essential knowledge needed to understand the complex science underlying climate change.

Required Supplies: 

  • Copies of the activities and poster pages.
  • Dice for each group to roll to determine their movement through the nitrogen cycle.

Materials Provided: 

  • PowerPoint presentation with multiple choice questions.
  • Teacher notes on most slides to help guide class discussion.
  • Three classroom activities.
  • Readings on nitrogen and on agriculture and climate change.

Estimated Teaching Time: 

  • Minimum of four 50-minute class periods.