Abiotic vs. Biotic Factors Activities

Instructor: Josh Corbat

Josh has taught Earth Science and Physical Science at the High School level and holds a Master of Education degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Looking to spice up your lessons pertaining to abiotic and biotic factors? This lesson contains several ideas that will make learning about these factors engaging and meaningful.

Teaching Abiotic and Biotic Factors

In some ways, the topics of abiotic and biotic factors are straightforward for students. In other ways, common misconceptions can trip them up. It is important to gauge your students' understanding of the terms 'abiotic' and 'biotic' before going too far in this type of unit. Start by having students list environmental factors that are alive and those that are not alive. Then introduce the idea that some non-living factors are necessary for life but are not alive themselves. Sunlight for example is necessary for life but it is an abiotic factor. This will help clear up misgivings. The activities in this lesson will allow students to explore the concepts of abiotic and biotic factors in meaningful, engaging ways.

Abiotic and Biotic Factors Card Sort

An abiotic and biotic factors card sort is a quick and easy activity to help students think deeply about the factors that make up an ecosystem. Provide each student with a stack of cards that contain a variety of abiotic and biotic factors. You can even create stacks that pertain to particular biomes if you wish and have students trade stacks when finished. Students will then spend some time sorting the stack into each appropriate factor: biotic or abiotic. Be sure to encourage students to ask questions and help each other out. You may even want to hold a discussion after the activity to clear up any common misconceptions or further define problematic terms.

Abiotic and Biotic Factors Field Observations

It can be a fun day in science class when we get to go outside! Take students on a walk around the school with the intent of identifying all of the abiotic and biotic factors they observe. Ask students to bring pen and paper with them so they can keep track of their findings. You may even want to turn this into a bit of a competition: whoever comes up with the most factors on their list wins!

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