Day Three of Plaid Pete and Friends Build A Model Ecosystem

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Objective

SWBAT collaboratively construct a model ecosystem and create diagrammatic models to show transfers of matter and energy within that ecosystem.

Big Idea

What can be learned by observing a model ecosystem? Students collect data, use their physical models to examine matter and energy transfers within ecosystems, and begin a study guide for the unit test.

Setting Up the Investigation

This is Day Three of a Three Day Lesson.  Click here for Day One of Plaid Pete and Friends Build A Model Ecosystem, and here for Day Two of Plaid Pete and Friends Build A Model Ecosystem.

On Day One of this investigation, students worked in pairs to collaboratively construct shoebox models of a chosen ecosystem.  On day two, they used those models to begin to diagram the transfer of energy and matter within those systems.  Today they will finish those diagrams, learn one piece of new information about symbiotic relationships, and begin working on the study guide that they will use to study for the end of unit assessment.

Connection to The Next Generation Science Standards

In this investigation, students finalize the work that will lead them to understand the Disciplinary Core Idea of Ecosystems:  Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics - Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems -  that food of almost any kind of animal can be traced back to plants.  Organisms are related in food webs in which some animals eat plants for food and other animals eat the animals that eat plants. Some organisms, such as fungi and bacteria, break down dead organisms (both plants or plants parts and animals) and therefore operate as "decomposers."  Decomposition eventually restores (recycles) some materials back to the soil.  Organisms can survive only in environments in which their particular needs are met.  A healthy ecosystem is one in which multiple species of different types are each able to meet their needs in a a relatively stable web of life.  Newly introduced species can damage the balance of the ecosystem. (5-LS2-1); Cycles of Matter and Energy Transfer in Ecosystems - Matter cycles between the air and soil and among plants, animals, and microbes as these organisms live and die.  Organisms obtain gases, and water, from the environment, and release waste matter (gas, liquid, or solid) back into the environment.  (5-LS2-1) and the Crosscutting Concept of Systems and System Models  - A system can be described in terms of its components and their interactions (5-LS2-1), and the of Crosscutting Concept of Energy and Matter  - Energy can be transferred in various ways and between objects (5-PS3-1) 

The Preparation Time for This Investigation is approximately 5 minutes.  

Materials Needed: 

One copy for each student of Plaid Pete Discovers What Matters In Ecosystems Unit Review - Study Guide - Lesson 19

One copy of Plaid Pete Discovers What Matters In Ecosystems Unit Review - Study Guide Answer Key

Plaid Pete Discovers What Matters In Ecosystems - Lab Booklet Lesson 16 (Handed out in a previous lesson)

Model ecosystems (aquatic and terrestrial) that students have previously created

Books or Research Materials on Ecosystems - I used The Ecosystems Series Media Enhanced Books AV2 by Weigl

 Day Two

Materials Needed: 

Plaid Pete Discovers What Matters In Ecosystems - Lab Booklet Lesson 16 (Handed out in a previous lesson)

Model ecosystems (aquatic and terrestrial) that students have previously created

Books or Research Materials on Ecosystems - I used The Ecosystems Series Media Enhanced Books AV2 by Weigl

Day One

Materials Needed:

One copy for each student of Plaid Pete Discovers What Matters In Ecosystems - Lab Booklet Lesson 16 (Handed out in the previous lesson)

One large shoebox for each team

A variety of craft supplies (e.g. construction paper, feathers, beads, material scraps, string, yarn, etc. - students are creative and can come up with some amazing things given an odd assortment of materials!)

Books or Research Materials on Ecosystems - I used The Ecosystems Series Media Enhanced Books AV2 by Weigl

Focus & Motivation

5 minutes

Learning Objective & Success Criteria

Note:  Consistent with the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol, I am now including a language objective with each lesson.  These objectives were derived from the Washington State ELP Standards Frameworks that are correlated with the CCSS and the NGSS.

I again remind my students of the learning objectives and success criteria that we are working on for this project:  

Learning Objective:  I can collaboratively construct a model ecosystem and can create models to show transfers of energy and matter within that ecosystem.

Language Objective:  I can use Science words and phrases in written text.  [ELP.4-5.7]

I share that I specifically expect to hear and see the Science Vocabulary that we have learned in this unit as I am moving between groups.  I point to the Word Wall where we have collected all of our vocabulary for this unit.  

Success Criteria:  I can work cooperatively with my team to build an ecosystem, to complete all required sections of my lab booklet, and my study guide!

Questions

After sharing the learning objectives and success criteria, I again specifically leave time for any pressing questions that need to be answered before we begin our day.  I explain to my students that they will have today, and the next two days to finish up with their Lab Booklets, and to study for the test.  They will take the Unit Test on the third day.  I explain that we will also collect our last set of data from our classroom ecosystem of fiddler crabs on that day as well.

Instruction

35 minutes

Balanced Ecosystems

The designated team for the day collects the data for our fiddler crab ecosystem (temperature, pH level, nitrate and nitrite levels, and salinity) and records it on the whiteboard for students to copy into their lab booklets.  I stop my students in their work for a bit, and ask the following question:  What would happen to our fiddler crab ecosystem if you introduced another living organism?

Some of my students immediately raise their hands.  When I call on the first student, they respond that it would kill the fiddler crabs.  I ask if anyone agrees or disagrees with this statement.  Another student responds that it would depend on whether or not the living organism was from the same kind of ecosystem - since our fiddler crabs are from a mangrove swamp ecosystem and the water is salty.  Another student says that it would also depend on how big the living organism was, since the aquarium is small and they might have to compete for space.  Another student comments that they also might have to compete for food.

I point out to my students how hard we have been working to get the salt level balanced in our fiddler crab's ecosystem, and how we have had to add baking soda to the water to balance the pH level.  I tell my students, "In nature, these things are carefully balanced - the natural ebb and flow of water in an ecosystem takes care of balancing things like salt content and pH in the mangrove swamp.  However, adding new species of plants or animals can upset that delicate balance and result in harm to the organisms that live there."

I further explain that this is why we have to be very careful about introducing non-native species of living organisms into places where they don't belong.  The balance of an ecosystem can be very fragile!  

Introduce Symbiosis

I tell my students that as they were conducting their research on ecosystems, I began to notice that some of them were wondering about the kinds of relationships between the living things that develop in ecosystems.  I explain that is a topic that they will explore in greater depth next year in middle school.  I say, "However, I would like to give you some information on it now because the relationships between living organisms within an ecosystem have a lot to do with how that ecosystem stays in balance - or not.  I am going to play a Scholastic Study Jams video that presents it rather nicely,"  I play the Scholastic Study Jams Video:  Symbiosis. 

As I have told my students, although this content is ranging into the Middle Grades for the Next Generation Science Standards, I have some students who are highly capable and need access to higher level content.  While I will not hold students responsible for this content on the Unit Assessment, there will be opportunity for students to show that they have exceeded the grade level standard.

Construct Chart

I tell my students, "As you have seen, one of the ways that an ecosystem stays carefully balanced is the roles that specific living organisms play - producers, consumers, and decomposers.  Another way they stay in balance is through their relationships to each other.  This is called symbiosis."  I write that at the top of the chart.  I then review the three types of relationships, writing them on the chart.

  • parasitism - a relationship between two organisms that benefits one organism and harms the other one.  For example:  A flea that feeds on a dog.
  • commensalism - a relationship between two organisms that benefits one organism and the other is not harmed.  For example:  A bird that builds its nest in a tree.
  • mutualism - a relationship between two organisms that benefits both organisms.  For example:  The Egyptian Plover that eats parasites off of the crocodile.

 

I ask my students for examples of these, and it is such new information, that they are only able to come up with the examples that are listed in the video.  I do have one student though who is quite interested in this topic and has done his homework - as seen in this Video Clip.

Team/Pairs Activity

20 minutes

Introduce Study Guide

I hand out the Plaid Pete Discovers What Matters In Ecosystems Unit Review - Study Guide - Lesson 19.  Some students have decided to work in pairs, and some work as teams to complete this.  They will then collaborate with another pair or team to check their answers.  I encourage this as much as possible - because if they are talking about the topic then they are reviewing it!

They are now accustomed to using study guides so they need much less assistance than at the beginning.  When all students have completed and checked their guides, I will go over them as a class before they take them home to ensure their answers are correct.

Since we have several more days of data collection before I give the Unit Test, this will give them some in class time to study together, and to play games such as "Memory" and "Password" with the vocabulary cards.  I am grateful we have this time for this unit, as my students who are most likely to need study time, are the least likely to take the time at home to do it.

This time will also provide the opportunity for those slower workers to finish their Lab Booklets.

Reflection & Closure

5 minutes

Set the Stage for Tomorrow

In order to ensure that students use the time we have productively, I set the stage for tomorrow by creating a Task List.  I have it posted on the whiteboard and let them know that these are the criteria for how their time will be used until we take the Unit Test.

  1. Complete Data Collection/Data Logs for the Day.
  2. Complete all work in the Lab Booklet.
  3. Complete any unfinished work in your Science Notebook.
  4. Study using your study guide.  Students who use this time wisely are welcome to study with a partner.  Students who do not will be given specific study tasks (typically writing vocabulary words and their definitions, or worksheets pertaining to the content.
  5. Study your Vocabulary Cards.  Again, students who use this time wisely are welcome to study with a partner.