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Learn to recycle, reduce, reuse and revere with Environmental Resources from Gale


Title: Ecology

Author: Jennifer Dwojakowski

Grade Level: 9-10

Subject/Content: Science / Biology

Summary of Lesson: Through the application of ecological concepts, the purpose of this lab investigation is to examine the degree of impact of naturally occurring, as well as human influenced, issues on the careful balance of a self-contained ecosystem.

Focus Question: What are the necessary components of a self-contained ecosystem and how do we prevent their destruction?

Databases(s): Science Resource Center, WEB FEET


  • Steps/Activities by teacher:
    • Allow students to access Science Resource Center, subject category Ecosystems to define terms for basic ecology (producer, consumers, nutrient cycles, etc.)
    • Lead a class discussion allowing students to share how they defined their terms
    • Discuss what it means to be self-sustaining and what limiting factors in an environment are, emphasizing how a healthy ecosystem is able to survive
    • Allow students time to design an ecosystem container with a partner by doing a detailed drawing and explaining why it will be successful
    • Using provided supplies, or supplies students bring in (two-liter bottles, tape, fish bowls, etc) allow students to construct their ecosystem plan
    • Explain to the students how they will collect / obtain samples for their self-contained ecosystem and what components must be included (producers, consumers, nutrient cycles; see math component option under related activities section)
    • Assist students in creating an observation / records sheet where they will record bi-weekly observations and necessary interventions they make
    • Assist students in accessing WEB FEET Web site to research information on human impact on ecosystems
    • Have students share article / information findings on human impact to the ecosystem, relating these to what happened in their ecosystem set-up
    • See possible English link under related activities section
  • Steps/Activities by student(s):
    • Access Science Resource Center and enter subject category Ecosystems
    • Define basic terminology in relationship to ecology
    • Design and then construct a self-contained ecosystem
    • Collect specimens to complete ecosystem
    • Construct record tables to document set-up, organisms added and interventions necessary
    • Observe and document the progress of the ecosystem overtime
    • Access WEB FEET Web site and research issues of human impact on the environment
    • Construct a final report that includes original plan, tables detailing the organisms added, interventions necessary, a section highlighting improvements that could have been made to the ecosystem and a new drawing of how the ecosystem container could be improved

Outcome: Students will gain an understanding of necessary components required within a healthy, sustainable environment and ways human actions can impact that balance while discovering how to recognize and analyze explanations and models used in scientific experiments.

Related Activities: This activity is easily integrated with:

  • Math by incorporating the following while collecting the samples for the ecosystem:
    • Randomly select a sampling area by tossing a golf ball, the golf ball becomes the "origin" of an x, y-axis coordinate system
    • Measure out a 10 x 10 plot area with the golf ball as the center
    • Transfer this created coordinate system into graph paper
    • Randomly toss a "sampling" figure (a geometric shape cut out of poster board) into the plotted area
    • Collect living samples for the biology lesson from under where the figure lands when tossed
    • Toss the shape 10 times; each time carefully measure and plot the "sampling figure" onto the graph paper coordinate system
  • English by incorporating the following after the completion of the activity:
    • Obtain the book "Silent Spring" by Rachel Carson
    • Examine excerpts from the book focusing on her use of literary personification while addressing environmental issues

Standard Date: December 1994

Content Standard(s):

  • NS.9-12.1(A) Understands about scientific inquiry
  • NS.9-12.3(C) Interdependence of organisms, Behavior of organisms
  • NS.9-12.4(D) Geochemical cycles; NS.9-12.6(F) Natural Resources, Environmental quality, Natural and human induced hazards

Learning Expectation: As a result of activities, students should develop an understanding of the interdependence of organisms in an ecosystem and the natural and human induced hazards that could impact the environmental quality and hence the success of an ecosystem.

Performance Indicators:

  • At Level 1, the student is able to: Know general terminology related to ecology and the components of a self-sustaining ecosystem.
  • At Level 2, the student is able to: Explain how every part of an ecosystem is dependent on another and why maintaining equilibrium in an ecosystem is essential to specie survival.
  • At Level 3, the student is able to:
    • Construct a self-sustaining ecosystem by incorporating all the essential components of a stable environment.
    • Present experimental findings and persuasive recommendations for how to prevent the destruction of ecosystems

Computer Literacy and Usage Standards 9-12:

  • The student will demonstrate proficiency in the care and use of computer-based technology.
  • The student will develop skills using a variety of computer resources to increase productivity, support creativity, conduct and evaluate research and improve communications.
  • The student will use technology resources to improve problem solving and decision-making skills and apply these skills to real world situations.

ISTE NETS for Students

  • A1 Design and conduct a scientific experiment, Recognize and analyze alternative explanations and models
  • C4 Interdependence of organisms
  • D2 Geochemical cycles
  • F4 Environmental quality
  • F5 Natural and human induced hazards

Information Power; Information Literacy Standard 7: The student who contributes positively to the learning community and to society is information literate and recognizes the importance of information to a democratic society.


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