• Curriculum Standards/Learning Outcomes - For Students

    Before we begin our course, it is a good idea to have an idea about what we are going to learn! Read the information below to learn about the Standards and Essential Questions you will be covering during this unit.

    Here are your "I Can" statements for this unit:

    • I can identify the roles, or jobs, of producers, consumers, and decomposers in a community.
    • I can show how energy flows, or moves, through a food web or food chain.
    • I understand that food webs and food chains begin with sunlight and include producers, consumers, and decomposers.
    • I can predict how changes in the environment would affect a community of living things.
    • I can predict what might happen in a community where some plants and animals are scarce.
    • I can predict what might happen in a community if there are too many of some plants and animals.
    • I can identify behaviors and external features of living things that help them survive.
    • I can identify factors that might have led to the extinction of some living things.
  • Task One - What is an Energy Pyramid?

    In this lesson, we will address the following I Can statements:

    • I can show how energy flows, or moves, through a food web or food chain.
    • I can predict what might happen in a community where some plants and animals are scarce.
    • I can predict what might happen in a community if there are too many of some plants and animals.

    An energy pyramid is a diagram that shows how much energy is passed from one organism to the next in a food chain. Make some observations about the energy pyramid above. What do you notice about the number of organisms at each level of the energy pyramid?

    Watch and listen to this explanation of energy pyramids. As you listen, think about the following questions:

    • Why is it important for an ecosystem to have many producers, some herbivores, and very few carnivores?
    • What does the energy pyramid show us about why producers are an important part of the ecosystem?
    • What does the energy pyramid show us about why carnivores are an important part of the energy pyramid?

    Watch this Brainpop Video and complete the review quiz that follows it.  

  • Changes in an Ecosystem
     
    In this lesson, we will address the following I Can statements:
    • I can predict how changes in the environment would affect a community of living things.
    • I can predict what might happen in a community where some plants and animals are scarce.
    • I can predict what might happen in a community if there are too many of some plants and animals.

    Remember that in Lesson Two, we learned about food chains and food webs. We saw how living things depend on each other for energy. Watch this food chain Brain Pop movie to review important information about food chains and food webs.

    While watching, pay close attention to the portion of the video where Tim and Moby discuss how changes in an ecosystem affect all the organisms in the food chain.

    Next, play this food chain review game. Again, pay close attention to the portion of the game that shows how removing just one organism from the food chain affects all the other organisms in the food chain.

    Ask yourself: What actions or events might cause these changes in an ecosystem?

    That question is the topic of this lesson. We will be learning about the different factors that can affect an ecosystem.

Ecosystems

  •  
     

    From this reading, we have learned many important ideas.

    biotic.jpg

    Biotic factors are the living parts of an ecosystem.

    Biotic factors affect an entire ecosystem in many ways. For example, in a forest, trees provide shelter for many animals.

    Biotic factors can have a negative impact on an ecosystem. For example, the population of cows in a field might increase too much. We call this overpopulation. These cows would eat all the grass in the field. After this, the cows would then go hungry and would begin to die off. This lack of a needed resource is called scarcity. The entire food chain is affected by the change in the cow population.

    abiotic.jpg

    Abiotic factors are the nonliving parts of an ecosystem. Abiotic factors also affect an entire ecosystem in many ways. For example, if an ecosystem experiences draught, or lack of water, the plants may die. When the producers die, the entire food chain would be affected by the change.

    Air, water, and soil can also become polluted with harmful substances that kill living things in an ecosystem. Again, the entire food chain would suffer because of this change.

    Climate is another abiotic factor. An ecosystem's climate is determined by how much rain falls, how much sunlight the area receives, and what the temperature is in that area. Climate is important because the living things in an ecosystem survive best in that particular climate. Many people are concerned about climate change known as global warming, because a change in the earth's climate could threaten the living things in ecosystems across the globe.

    The most important thing to remember is that balance is important for the survival of all living things in an ecosystem. An ecosystem is balanced when nothing is disrupting the flow of energy between the organisms in the ecosystem. Upsetting this balance can harm all the living things in an ecosystem.

    Biotic and abiotic images created by Mrs. Anna Bilyeu using photographs with permission through Creative Commons - Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

  • First, read this Scholastic News Rainforest at Risk article.

    While reading, think about how changes in the rainforest ecosystem would affect the other organisms who live there.

    Scholastic News often publishes opinion letters from students in their magazine. Using what we have learned about how changes within an ecosystem can affect the entire ecosystem, including food webs and energy pyramids, write a letter to Scholastic News in which you share your opinion about loggers cutting down trees in the rainforest. Then, publish your letter to our class discussion board.

    Your letter must include the following:

    • Explain how logging might affect at least two other organisms in the rainforest
    • Explain how logging might affect the energy pyramid in the rainforest
    • Explain why producers are such an important part of the rainforest ecosystem

    After completing your post, comment on at least two of your classmates' letters.

  • In this lesson, we will address the following I Can statement:

    • I can identify factors that might have led to the extinction of some living things.

    During this unit, we have learned that living things have adaptations that help them survive in a particular ecosystem. We have also learned that if an ecosystem changes, plants or animals may no longer be able to survive within that ecosystem. Sometimes, a change might be so great that it causes an entire species of living things to become extinct. Extinct means that all the members of that population have died out.

    Often, human activities cause extinction. For example, people destroy forests when they cut down trees to build towns and cities. This can lead to extinction when animals lose their forest homes.

    Thankfully, humans have also realized that our actions have harmed many animal species. In 1973, the United States passed The Endangered Species ActEndangered means that the organism's population is so small, there is a major risk of the organism becoming extinct. When a plant or animal is added to the Endangered Species list, the species is then protected by laws and wildlife refuges.

    To learn more about endangered species, visit Sheppard Software's Endangered Animals web page. While you explore, pay close attention to why the animals in each ecosystem are endangered.

    Then, click the "What's the Problem" button and think about how each of the following put animals in danger:

    • Habitat loss
    • Pollution
    • Introduction of species
    • Global warming
    • Farms
    • Poaching

    ** Optional Activities **

    If you are interested, choose and complete one or more of the activities on the Endangered Animals "How to Help" page. You can also learn about over 50 different endangered species at Kids' Planet Animal Fact Sheets.

If you are having trouble viewing the document, you may download the document.
  • Challenge!

    Biotic and abiotic factors have caused North America to lose 98% of prairie land over the past 150 years! Play the Build-a-Prairie simulation game to learn what it takes to restore a damaged ecosystem.

    Challenge!

    Interested in climate change? Take the Climate Change EcoKids quiz to learn more about what factors cause global warming!