African Ecosystems: Collecting Evidence of Food Webs
© Filip Lachowski
We have Bilingual Educators! Let us know if any students or chaperones in your class might benefit from activities taught in Cantonese, Mandarin, or Spanish.
By the end of the program students will be able to
- describe how non-living components of ecosystems influence organisms’ success over time.
- develop a food web model based on analyzing and interpreting data from scientific sources.
- identify cause and effect relationships of humans' impact on ecosystems (both beneficial and harmful).
What body structures help animals survive in their native environments? How do the non-living components, like water, influence an ecosystem? In this activity students take on the role being a field biologist. Student scientist teams become experts on a specific ecosystem by collecting and analyzing data in order to piece together the puzzle of how animals, plants, and the non-living components of the ecosystem all interact with one another. Science tools that students will use: science notebooks, dichotomous keys, field guides, skulls.
The program culminates with a case study of an endangered African antelope and how humans have impacted the environment in both harmful and beneficial ways. Through facilitated discussion the class explores a major cause of habitat destruction: human food choices. Students then brainstorm ways they can positively affect ecosystems by thinking about ways to minimize impacts of food production on ecosystems.
This field trip program compliments the FOSS Curriculum: Living Systems. We recommend the field trip take place in the middle or at the end of your unit.
Another option to prepare your students is to use one of our resources to help your students connect their classroom experiences to the museum experience.
Science and Engineering Practices
- Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions: Use evidence (e.g., measurements, observations, patterns) to construct or support an explanation. Identify the evidence that supports particular points in an explanation.
- Analyzing and Interpreting Data: Represent data in tables and/or various graphical displays (bar graphs, pictographs and/or pie charts) to reveal patterns that indicate relationships.
Disciplinary Core Idea
- Grade 5-LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems: A healthy ecosystem is one in which multiple species of different types are each able to meet their needs in a relatively stable web of life. Newly introduced species can damage the balance of an ecosystem.
- Patterns: Patterns of change can be used to make predictions. Patterns can be used as evidence to support an explanation.
- Cause and Effect: Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems.
Related Performance Expectations
Remember, performance expectations are not a set of instructional or assessment tasks. This activity or unit is just one of many that could help prepare your students to perform the following hypothetical tasks that demonstrate their understanding:
- Grade 5-LS2-1 - Develop a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment.
- Grade 5-ESS3-1 - Obtain and combine information about the ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.
- 2a. Students know plants are the primary source of matter and energy entering most food chains.
- 2b. Students know producers and consumers (herbivores, carnivores, omnivores, and decomposers) are related in food chains and food webs and may compete with each other for resources in an ecosystem.
- 3b. Students know that in any particular environment, some kinds of plants and animals survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.
Investigation and Experimentation
- 6e. Construct and interpret graphs from measurements.
Investigation and Experimentation
- 6g. Record data by using appropriate graphic representations (including charts, graphs, and labeled diagrams) and make inferences based on those data.
- 6h. Draw conclusions from scientific evidence and indicate whether further information is needed to support a specific conclusion.