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  [EXPLORING ECOSYSTEMS ONLINE]
 
[ACTIVITIES]
 
 
[ CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES ]
 
Developed in collaboration with the Stark County Educational Service Center and an outstanding team of science teachers in Stark County, Ohio, the activities listed below should help students and teachers in various grade levels start Exploring Ecosystems in greater detail.
     Each activity is listed with its correlating McREL national science education standards (in smaller bold type). A brief description of each activity is also listed. To view an activity, just click on its link.
 
 
Activity 1: Ecosystem in a Jar
Students will create a closed, self-sustained, aquatic mini-ecosystem in a glass jar with lid and use their mini-ecosystems to: make predictions, record observations, and discuss the possible reasons that their systems survive (or do not survive); learn how matter and energy cycles sustain a closed system; and observe the interdependence of organisms in an ecosystem.
 
Understands how the processes of photosynthesis and respiration in plants transfer energy from the Sun to living systems (e.g., chloroplasts in plant cells use energy from sunlight to combine molecules of carbon dioxide and water into complex. Energy-rich organic compounds, and release oxygen to the environment.)
 
Knows how the amount of life an environment can support is limited by the availability of matter and energy and the ability of the ecosystem to recycle materials.
 
Knows how the interrelationships and interdependencies among organism generate stable ecosystems that fluctuate around a state of rough equilibrium for hundreds or thousands of year (e.g., growth of a population is held in check by environmental factors such as depletion of food or nesting sites, increased loss due to larger numbers of predators or parasites).
 
 
Activity 2: A Cylinder of Bacteria
By building a Winogradsky column, students will: grow a variety of autotrophic bacteria in different regions of the column, construct a bacterial ecosystem similar to that found on the ocean floor, and observe the growth of both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria.
 
Knows that as matter and energy flow through different levels of organization in living systems and between living systems and the physical environment, chemical elements (e.g., carbon, nitrogen) are recombined in different ways.
 
Knows how the amount of life an environment can support is limited by the availability of matter and energy and the ability of the ecosystem to recycle materials.
 
 
Activity 3: Acid Attack
This activity is designed for students to experiment with the effect of common liquids and determine their effects on an egg. The connection can then be made to man's irresponsible actions of tampering with the balance of the reef ecosystem and the effects that these actions may have on the reef systems.
 
Understands how species depend on one another and on the environment for survival.
 
Knows ways in which humans can modify ecosystems and cause irreversible effects.
 
 
Activity 4: Agree/Disagree
This activity is an Internet-based activity designed to increase student awareness of the destruction of coral reefs. The students are given factual or opinionated statements concerning coral reefs. The focus of the activity is for students to state their response, research the topic and then support what they feel the correct response is based on the research information. The activity can then be expanded to address environmental issues within the students own community.
 
Knows factors that affect the number and types of organisms an ecosystem can support (e.g., available resources; abiotic factors such as quantity of light and water, range of temperatures, and soil composition; disease; competition from other organisms within the ecosystem; predation).
 
Knows ways in which humans can modify ecosystems and cause irreversible effects (e.g., human populatin growth, technology, and consumption; human destruction of habitats through direct harvesting, pollution and atmospheric changes).
 
 
Activity 5: Ecosystem Perspectives
This activity is an Internet-based activity designed to increase student awareness of the destruction of coral reefs. The students are given factual or opinionated statements concerning coral reefs. The focus of the activity is for students to state their response, research the topic and then support what they feel the correct response is based on the research information. The activity can then be expanded to address environmental issues within the students own community.
 
Knows factors that affect the number and types of organisms an ecosystem can support (e.g., available resources; abiotic factors such as quantity of light and water, range of temperatures, and soil composition; disease; competition from other organisms within the ecosystem; predation).
 
Knows ways in which humans can modify ecosystems and cause irreversible effects (e.g., human population growth, technology, and consumption; human destruction of habitats through direct harvesting, pollution and atmospheric changes).
 
 
Activity 6: Classroom BioDome
This activity would be used at the end of a unit on coral reef ecosystems to tie all the concepts together. This activity will give the students an opportunity to create and then interact in the coral reef environment. The students will work in teams to create a biosphere (biodome) which will contain a three-dimensional coral reef ecosystem. Once constructed the students will climb inside and experience visiting a coral reef. The students will then read creative writing papers that they have written either from the eyes of an organism found within the ecosystem or as an observer visiting the coral reef. The papers must include the interactions of the organism(s) with the flora and fauna of the environment.
 
Knows ways in which species interact and depend on one another in an ecosystem (e.g. producer/consumer, predator/prey, parasite/host, relationships that are mutually beneficial or competitive).
 
Knows that all individuals of a species that occur together at a given place and time make up a population, and all populations living together and the physical factors with which they interact compose an ecosystem.
 
Knows relationships that exist among organisms in food chains and food webs.
 
Knows how the interrelationships and interdepencies among organisms generate stable ecosystems that fluctuate around a state of rough equilibrium for hundreds or thousands of years (e.g. growth of a population is held in check by environmental factors such as depletion of food or nesting sites, increased loss due to larger number of predators or parasites).
 
Knows ways in which humans can modify ecosystems and cause irreversible effects (e.g. human population growth, technology and consumption; human destruction of habitats through direct harvesting, pollution, and atmospheric changes).
 
 
Activity 7: Science and Mythology
The students will chose a piece of art or literature that has a theme of a myth or legend of the oceanic environment. The students will then explore its history and scientific basis. Then the students will create their own creative representation of art or literature to represent their choice of an aspect of the oceanic environment (play, sculpture, music, dance, or poem). Essentially the students will be solving the mysteries of these myths and legends and then creating their own as well. This lesson could be taught as an interdisciplinary lesson with subjects such as art, history, biology, and English.
 
Understands how scientific knowledge changes and accumulates over time (e.g. all scientific knowledge is subject to change as new evidence becomes available; some scientific ideas are incomplete and opportunity exists in these areas for new advance; theories are continually tested, revised, and occasionally discarded).
 
Knows that from time to time, major shifts occur in the scientific view of how the world works, but usually the changes that take place in the body of scientific knowledge are small modifications of prior knowledge.
 
Knows that good scientific explanations are based on evidence (observations) and scientific knowledge.
 
Knows that conceptual principles and knowledge guide scientific inquires, historical and current scientific knowledge influence the design and interpretation of investigations and the evaluation of proposed explanations made by other scientists.
 
Knows that scientists conduct investigations for a variety of reasons (e.g. to discover new aspects of the natural world, to explain recently observed phenomena, to test the conclusions of prior investigations to test the predictions of current theories).
 
Knows that throughout history, many scientific innovators have had difficulty breaking through accepted ideas of their time to reach conclusions that one now considered to be common knowledge.
 
Knows that creativity, imagination, and a good knowledge base are all required in the work of science and engineering.
 
 
Activity 8: Coral Reef Explorations
Students will be involved in group activities to explore reef ecology and artificial reef systems. These activities are based on collaborative groups and include activities heavily based on internet access. What is a coral reef? Where are they located? How do they "grow"?
 
Knows that the interrelationships and interdependencies among organisms generate stable ecosystems that fluctuate around a state of rough equilibrium for hundreds or thousands of years (e.g., growth of a population is held in check by environmental factors such as depletion of food or nesting sties, increased loss due to larger numbers of predators or parasites).
 
Knows ways in which humans can modify ecosystems and cause irreversible effects (e.g., human population growth, technology, and consumption: human destruction of habitats through direct harvesting, pollution, and atmospheric changes).
 
 
Activity 9: Alien Invasion of Earth's Ecosystem
This is an activity to allow students to analyze the simulated invasion of an ecosystem by a non-native species (using multicolored spiral macaroni). They will be integrating math and science as they count populations and calculate percentages. In addition, they must compile their data with that of other groups and then analyze that data to draw conclusions.
 
Knows how variations of organisms within a species increases the chance of survival of life in the event of major global changes.
 
Knows that all individuals of a species that occur together at a given place and time make up a population, and all populations living together and the physical factors with which they interact compose an ecosystem.
 
Understands the basic concepts of the evolution of the species.
 
Knows basic ideas related to biological evolution(e.g., diversity of species is developed through gradual processes over many generations; biological adaptations such as changes in structure, behavior, or physiology, allow some species to enhance their reproductive success and survival in a particular environment).
 
Knows that natural selection leads to organisms that are well suited for survival in particular environments, so that when an environment changes, some inherited characteristics become more or less advantageous or neutral, and chance alone can result in characteristics having no survival or reproductive value.
 
Knows that the work of science requires a variety of human abilities, qualities, and habits of mind (e.g., reasoning, insight, energy, skill, creativity, intellectual honesty, tolerance of ambiguity, skepticism, openness to new ideas).
 
 
Activity 10: Marine vs. Freshwater Ecosystems
This is an activity to allow students to compare and contrast the characteristics of two ecosystems and their organisms. Optimally, this will be done by visiting the two ecosystems. However, videos of one or both ecosystems could be used when actual visits are not possible.
 
Knows the major differences between fresh and ocean waters.
 
Knows that plants and animals have features that help them live in different environments.
 
Knows different ways in which living things can be grouped (marine/freshwater).
 
Knows how variations of organisms within a species increases the chance of survival of life in the event of major global changes.
 
Understands how species depend on one another and on the environment for survival.
 
Knows that living things are found almost everywhere in the world and that distinct environments support the life of different types of plants and animals.
 
Knows that all individuals of a species that occur together at a given place and time make up a population, and all populations living together and the physical factors with which they interact compose an ecosystem.
 
Knows that natural selection leads to organisms that are well suited for survival in particular environments, so that when an environment changes, some inherited characteristics become more or less advantageous or neutral, and chance alone can result in characteristics having no survival or reproductive value.
 
Knows that learning can come from careful observations and simple experiments.
 
Plans and conducts simple investigations (e.g., makes systematic observations).
 
 
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