Westridge 8th grade students are studying how carbon is cycled from, and to, organisms and animals, and how changes to the environment may affect marine organisms by creating their own “mason jar ecosystems.”

The mason jars are part of the carbon cycle/global climate change unit. Through a collaboration with CSU Northridge, Middle School Science Teacher Darren Brown collected intertidal organisms (such as snails, hermit crabs, brittle stars, sea urchins, and kelp) to populate the tanks.

During the carbon cycle unit, students created their own mason jar ecosystems by filling the jars with seawater and adding different organisms. Students measured how the dissolved oxygen concentration changed depending on what type or how many organisms they included. In the global climate change unit, they used the ecosystems to measure how concentrations of carbon and oxygen change as seawater temperature increases. They determined that increased temperatures disrupt the carbon cycle, which could break down their ecosystem. In total, students used a different mason jar for each of the five experiments.

“Even the students that weren't too excited to touch/interact with the organisms, still were eager to participate in the experiments,” said Brown.

Also: A thank you is in order for Brown, who was a long-term substitute for science teacher Rob Greene. We appreciate the time and care you've put into teaching Westridge students!