Can you name the element that is most important to sustaining life? Did you answer carbon or oxygen? Most people answer oxygen. Yes, many living things depend on oxygen to survive, but, carbon is in fact, more fundamental to the sustenance of life. Actually carbon IS life, since every living thing contains carbon, the term organic refers to certain varieties of carbon present in all life-forms.
Stop and investigate a decomposing log….look for those little creatures (the detritivores) that help with the breakdown of the log. A whole amazing micro-community of creatures live right there. These creatures are helping with the chemical breakdown of the log, and leave waste products that put carbon dioxide in the air! How many living creatures can you find? Here is what we found on our decomposing adventure. A beetle working very hard and munching away…..
Woodlice love the moist envrionment of decomposing leaves and trees. Did you know that woodlice have gills?
Here, we have the master decomposers, the primary decomposers, members of the bacteria and fungi families. They extract the energy contained in the chemical bonds of the decomposing organic matter and realease carbon dioxide into the air.
Be sure to make time to climb and balance on these carbon dioxide contributors!
I recommend taking a lot of photos of the decomposing ecosystem over time and note how it changes.
I don’t think we are done with carbon yet, we are having way too much fun and learning so much! Want more carbon fun? Try the moss terarrium. More PTOE fun? Try the riddles, sulphur and gold activities.