Biomass Lesson Plan

Instructor: Jason Lineberger

Jason has 20 years of education experience including 14 years of teaching college literature.

This lesson will help you teach the concept of biomass. Students will learn to identify the parts of an ecosystem that add to its biomass and place them in a biomass pyramid. This lesson includes a role-playing activity to engage your kinesthetic learners.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define biomass
  • categorize producers and consumers in an ecosystem
  • draw a biomass pyramid for an ecosystem
  • explain why aquatic ecosystems have inverted biomass pyramids


60-90 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks, attending to special cases or exceptions defined in the text.


Translate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text into visual form (e.g., a table or chart) and translate information expressed visually or mathematically (e.g., in an equation) into words.

Materials Needed

  • Images of ecosystems
  • Image of a food web
  • Picture cards with images of the following: algae, zooplankton, herring, tuna, shark
  • Several plastic tokens
  • Chart paper
  • Markers, colored pencils, or crayons



  • Start the lesson by showing the class a picture of an ecosystem (non-aquatic). Have them point out which parts of the ecosystem are producers and consumers.
  • Display the sample image of a food web and review this type of chart.
  • Lead a discussion that will result in constructing a food web for the ecosystem image shown to the class.


  • Play the video What is Biomass? - Definition & Explanation
  • Pause the video at 1:34 to lead a discussion on how an ecological pyramid works.
  • Pause the video at 2:07, transition the class to the role-playing activity.

Role Playing Activity

  • Take your class outside or to the gym. They'll need room to move for this activity.
  • Distribute the picture cards so that everyone in the class has been assigned a role: algae, zooplankton, herring, tuna, or shark. Populate the groups so that algae have the most; zooplankton will be the second largest on down to sharks, which should only be one or two students in the class.
  • Give each student with an algae card five tokens and let them run around in the game area. Release the zooplankton students to try to tag the algae. If an algae is tagged, the zooplankton gets one of that student's plastic tokens. Any algae who loses all five tokens should leave the game.
  • After 30-45 seconds let the students with the herring cards loose. They will try tagging students who have zooplankton cards. If they do so, they will take two tokens.
  • Wait another 30-45 seconds and let the tuna students loose. When they tag a herring, they take four tokens.
  • Finally, release the sharks. These students will tag the tunas to receive up to 8 tokens.

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