Reflection: Real World Applications Investigating Systems - Section 3: Instructional Input/Student Activities


Teaching Challenges:

1. How can I develop my students' ability to apply unifying ideas to make connections across science content?

2. How do I support students to develop and use scientific models?

3. How can I increase/improve my students' use of appropriate and precise science vocabulary?

Before I get fully immersed into the details of ecology with the integral processes of energy flow and matter cycling, I want to stop and process the meaning and implications of a system. This response illustrates some common examples of systems that flow directly from the definition. Systems are ubiquitous in nature. The challenge is to find non-examples! Of those listed, a pencil can be argued as representing a system (depending on if an eraser and lead are included as components). Technically, just a stick of graphite would constitute a non-example but what about the interconnected atoms of carbon? So the argument can get very nit-picky.

The point here is that the term "system" carries a very specific denotation, it can be represented by a mental model (to be unpacked in later lessons), and whether the discipline is physics, chemistry, Earth and Space science, or even biology, a proper understanding of system undergirds a sophisticated understanding of nature.

  Real World Applications: Something so simple yet complex
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Investigating Systems

Unit 7: 7) Ecology ("Population Interactions")
Lesson 12 of 16

Objective: Students will be able to identify and describe the components to a typical ecosystem. Furthermore, students will understand how energy flows and matter cycles throughout ecosystems.

Big Idea: Ecosystems are complex systems by nature and are composed of both biotic and abiotic components.

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