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The construction of a closed terrarium allows students to observe a miniature ecosystem, providing an opportunity to work with biogeochemical cycles, focusing mainly on the water and carbon cycles, and expanding to topics such as decomposition, plant respiration, and photosynthesis. The proposal is an investigative activity in which students formulate hypotheses and carry out the practice before receiving an explanation about the phenomenon. This approach empowers them as protagonists of the learning process, fostering curiosity for the explanations about the observed phenomena and expanding their understanding of Earth as a system.

The proposal includes videos and a report. The first video is about assembling the terrarium and can be shown in parts, with care not to provide explanations upfront, as that could compromise the investigative process in the initial part of the report. The second video explains how a terrarium can sustain itself without external needs and is ideal for showing as a conclusion. This activity is suitable for all levels of education, with explanations adaptable according to the skills covered, from the early years of elementary school to high school.


Flavia Sant'Anna Rios, Lúcia Sanguino Canteri, Sandra Freiberger Affonso, Vinícius da Luz Redígolo.




Demonstrate how terrariums are able to represent ecosystems, showing biological processes and biogeochemical cycles. 

Skills worked












  • Transparent pot with lid that, when closed, is tightly sealed (cannot be pierced underneath)

  • Substrate rich in organic matter or fertilized substrate

  • Drainage stones (can be replaced by broken tile or brick or even pieces of reused Styrofoam)

  • Drainage blanket or screen for pots (can replace with TNT or cotton fabric)

  • Plants for closed terrarium (mosses and/or others do not grow much)

  • Water 

  • Dropper, syringe or something that allows you to gently water the terrarium

  • Printed practical class report (1 for each student or group)

Support materials

14. Terrário.png
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