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Add Stub # – Karan – Energy Flow in the Garden Ecosystem

GRADE: 3-5 Band, Elementary (K-5), K, K-2 Band, 1, 2, 3, 4  |  TIME: approx 1.5 - 2 hours over 1 or 2 days

OVERVIEW

4th grade students will learn about the flow of energy and matter in a
garden ecosystem by playing the roles of producers, consumers and decomposers in a simulation activity; observing components of the soil food web in the garden; forensically dissecting an owl pellet to re-create a food web and an ecological pyramid from which energy flow can be calculated; and restoring balance to a garden ecosystem by removing non-native species or introducing beneficial predators to control pests.

DISCIPLINE: Life Sciences
TOPIC: Earth & Space Science, Earth's Systems, Weather and Climate
GA STANDARDS(GSES):
NGSS CORE IDEA: ETS2A - Interdependence of Science, Engineering & Technology, Earth and Space Science, Life Science
PRACTICE: Analyzing & Interpreting Data, Asking Question/Defining Problems, Investigations
CROSSCUTTING CONCEPTS: Cause and Effect, Energy and Matter

Standards

Georgia Standards of Excellence in Science (GSES):
NGSS Standard:
NGSS Evidence Statement:
Other Standards:

Framework

Background Information

Teacher Preparation

  • Assemble the supplies and materials needed for the lesson
  • Make copies of the Owl Pellet Dissection Lab Report (attached)
  • Make copies of the Owl Prey Bone Chart www.biologycorner.com/resources/Owl_Pellepdf
  • Print a copy of each organism card and ecosystem role sign. Cut them apart.
  • Tape the ecosystem role signs to benches or chairs set up in a straight line, a la Musical Chair
  • Provide students with access to an Internet-connected computer and one of these web sites, when they can research owl prey: http://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide OR http://www.enaturcom/home/ OR have a classroom set of mammal field guides available.
  • Print soil food web posters or hand-outs or display slide show:

http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/photogallery/soils/health/biology/gallery/?cid=1788&position=Promo

Engineer

Engage

Engaging Students

“It’s Lonely at the Top” Ecosystem Role Play

Students will participate in a simulation, re-creating an ecosystem model by role-playing. Students each draw a card with the name of an organism to play and assign themselves the role of producer, consumer, or decomposer. Their classmates will decide if they agree with the role selected, and argue from evidence regarding proposed changes in that role.

  • Optional: Display these web pages via smartboard to clarify which organisms are herbivores, carnivores, or decomposers: http://www.qrg.northwestern.edu/projects/marssim/simhtml/info/whats-a-herbivore.html
  • Copy and cut apart the organism and role cards provided with this lesson.
  • Set up the game as specified in the directions, attaching role cards to the back of chairs arranged in a line.
  • Let students select organism cards and follow directions for play. Read directions provided with role and organism cards.
  • Encourage classmates to challenge the roles other students select, and argue from evidence regarding proposed changes.

Elicit Questions

Explain

This is with help from the NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION

nwf_screen
Caption of something

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Courtesy of whomever

Evaluate

Explore

Exploration

Owl Pellet Dissection and Reconstruction of the Owl’s Food Web and Energy Pyramid

  • Explain that student will be science detectives, using evidence to discover what an owl ate – and what its prey ate – in order to

reconstruct the owl’s real-life food web and energy pyramid.

  • Pass out the Owl Pellet Bone Chart, the Owl Pellet Dissection Worksheet, and one owl pellet to each pair / team of students, along with a paper bowl, water, a bamboo skewer or forceps, and gloves (optional – pellets are sterile).
  • Direct students to dissect the owl pellet, compare contents to bone chart, and determine what species the owl ate.
  • Let students research the prey animal(s) found in the owl pellet and determine the diet of that prey from a field guide.
  • Students should reconstruct the owl’s food chain or web to the garden (producer) level with Sun as source.
  • After students have re-constructed the owl’s probable real-life food chain or web, show this short interactive web site to

show that only 10% of energy in an organism is transferred to its consumer at the next trophic level:

http://igbiologyy.blogspot.com/2014/03/109-food-pyramids-of-numbers-biomass.html

  • Debrief the food web and energy pyramid reconstruction activities by asking students to explain their completed Lab

Reports. Assess understanding and introduce resources listed under Background Information to address misconceptions.

For example, energy pyramids are always – well – pyramidical. But pyramids of numbers are not:

http://igbiologyy.blogspot.com/2014/03/109-food-pyramids-of-numbers-biomass.html

Soil Food Web

Students will explore the hidden soil food web by sifting soil in the garden and searching with a magnifier (hand lens) to find and identify animals; observing their characteristics and guessing whether they are predators or prey; and looking up their place in soil food web. Display or print copies of this soil food web from NRCS: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_MEDIA/nrcs142p2_049822.jpg

Extend

If releasing beneficial insects in the garden to restore a missing element from the ecosystem, consider engaging students in the Lost Ladybug Project citizen science research activities: http://www.lostladybug.org/ Students search for, identify, and report ladybugs found in the garden and keep an eye out for rare and threatened species.

Ladybug wrangling tips:

Another possible project- install owl nesting boxes: http://kidwings.com/nests-of-knowledge/11-barn-owl-conservation/

Supplies and Prep

Teacher Preparation
  • Assemble the supplies and materials needed for the lesson
  • Make copies of the Owl Pellet Dissection Lab Report (attached)
  • Make copies of the Owl Prey Bone Chart www.biologycorner.com/resources/Owl_Pellepdf
  • Print a copy of each organism card and ecosystem role sign. Cut them apart.
  • Tape the ecosystem role signs to benches or chairs set up in a straight line, a la Musical Chair
  • Provide students with access to an Internet-connected computer and one of these web sites, when they can research owl prey: http://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide OR http://www.enaturcom/home/ OR have a classroom set of mammal field guides available.
  • Print soil food web posters or hand-outs or display slide show:
http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/photogallery/soils/health/biology/gallery/?cid=1788&position=Promo

Environmental Stewardship

Students will go on a non-native worm hunt in the garden and remove any large alien, invasive worms that eat native worms and cut roots of plants OR students will release beneficial organisms like ladybugs or lacewings, who keep the pest population in the garden under control organically. Note that is advisable to release beneficial organisms at sunset so that they will be assured of spending the night in the garden and may be less likely to fly away.

STEM Connections

ReTeach

Small Group Learning Activity:

Students will participate in a simulation, re-creating an ecosystem model by role-playing. Students each draw a card with the name of an organism to play and assign themselves the role of producer, consumer, or decomposer. Their classmates will decide if they agree with the role selected, and argue from evidence regarding proposed changes in that role.

  • Optional: Display these web pages via smartboard to clarify which organisms are herbivores, carnivores, or decomposers: http://www.qrg.northwestern.edu/projects/marssim/simhtml/info/whats-a-herbivore.html
  • Copy and cut apart the organism and role cards provided with this lesson.
  • Set up the game as specified in the directions, attaching role cards to the back of chairs arranged in a line.
  • Let students select organism cards and follow directions for play. Read directions provided with role and organism cards.
  • Encourage classmates to challenge the roles other students select, and argue from evidence regarding proposed changes.

Individual Learning Activity:

Students will participate in a simulation, re-creating an ecosystem model by role-playing. Students each draw a card with the name of an organism to play and assign themselves the role of producer, consumer, or decomposer. Their classmates will decide if they agree with the role selected, and argue from evidence regarding proposed changes in that role.

  • Optional: Display these web pages via smartboard to clarify which organisms are herbivores, carnivores, or decomposers: http://www.qrg.northwestern.edu/projects/marssim/simhtml/info/whats-a-herbivore.html
  • Copy and cut apart the organism and role cards provided with this lesson.
  • Set up the game as specified in the directions, attaching role cards to the back of chairs arranged in a line.
  • Let students select organism cards and follow directions for play. Read directions provided with role and organism cards.
  • Encourage classmates to challenge the roles other students select, and argue from evidence regarding proposed changes.

Teaching Tips

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