Tag Archives: systems

Systems and Models in Science

As we start the new school year, it’s time to revisit and review some of the major ideas from previous lessons. Today’s post recaps the systems approach to science – the examination of how parts of a whole work together to create interdependent linkages and something called ’emergent properties’, in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Follow this link to the Topic 1 page of another school’s DP ESS class. I highly recommend this site because it is extremely thorough and well-resourced.




The Carbon and Nitrogen Cycles

Biogeochemical cycles trace the movement of matter and nutrients through living organisms (“bio-“), planetary systems (“geo-“) and chemical reactions (“chemical”) throughout every part of Earth. The carbon cycle and the nitrogen cycle are possibly the 2 most important biogeochemical cycles on Earth. Here are a few fun videos to help you learn about these two essential cycles in our study of life and ecology.

First, a nice explanation of the carbon cycle:

Second, a little carbon music video:

Third, click on this link to BBC Bitesize Science for a very well-thought-out activity about the carbon cycle. It incorporates photosynthesis, respiration, biological molecules, and trophic levels.

Fourth, this animated tutorial found at W.H. Freeman thoroughly explains each step in the nitrogen cycle. While not super exciting, it’s well-done and includes a brief 3-question quiz.

Fifth, CrashCourse Science at YouTube offers us this entertaining and educational video about the nitrogen and phosphorus cycles (You don’t have to know about the phosphorus cycle in this class, but it’s helpful if you take more advanced biology courses):

The Habitable Planet

I just stumbled upon this course at Learner.org, called “The Habitable Planet: A Systems Approach to Environmental Science.” I haven’t had the time yet to fully explore it, but it looks to be a tremendous resource for our class. I recommend you bookmark this page in your browser and come back to it whenever we start a new topic (or when you’re revising for mock exams, topic tests, and/or the IB Exam. I will definitely be consulting it for some activities in future lessons.

Here’s a screenshot of the major topics you’ll find. Screen Shot 2013-10-02 at 09.29.23