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Ecology Activities for Middle School

Instructor: Shanna Fox

Shanna has been an educator for 20 years and earned her Master of Education degree in 2017. She enjoys using her experience to provide engaging resources for other teachers.

Teaching ecology to middle school students is an important endeavor. Use these activities to help your students work together to understand the interactions within the natural world.

Ecology Activities for Middle School

Middle school students may struggle to understand or apply some ecology concepts. Others, they may have learned year after year. Use these activities to help your students experience the concepts of balance, resources, and biomes in unique, interactive ways. Consider adding a short reflective paragraph to the end of each activity in order to increase individual accountability, solidify learning, and help students reflect on the purpose of the exercise.

Pythons on the Prowl

In this activity, students will take on the roles of predator and prey to identify the importance of balance in an ecosystem.

Materials

  • predator and prey cards
  • Florida Everglades food web (with / without pythons)
  • article about the python problem in the Florida Everglades

Preparation

Prepare for this activity by finding an article about the challenges faced in the Florida Everglades due to an increased population of pythons. Additionally, you will need to look online to find a Florida Everglades food web, one with and one without pythons included. Based on this food web, create cards for the various prey and predators within the Everglades environment. Include a number on predator cards that represents the number of prey they will consume in one meal. Create cards based on a realistic ratio.

Activity Directions

  1. Begin by handing out a set of animal cards to each student (multiple copies of the same animal).
  2. Students should use the food web to identify whether their animal is predator, prey, or both.
  3. Have students stand, with food web and animal card in hand, and circulate until you call ''partner!'' Begin the timer as soon as students link up with their first partners.
  4. Ask students to stop, partner with a classmate, and determine if either of them is consumed by the other. If so, the prey gives up the number of cards consumed by the predator. The predator removes one card from their collection since they have consumed a meal. Designate a discard pile location.
  5. Have students continue partnering until only top predators remain. Stop the timer.
  6. Remove pythons from the mix and conduct the activity again.
  7. Note the difference in time between each of the rounds and discuss. It should take less time with the pythons because they consume large amounts of prey.
  8. As an extension, change the cards that are in and out of play to compare results.
  9. Wrap up by reading the article, looking at the food web without pythons, and relating it to their experience with the activity.

Resource Race

Materials

  • paper plates
  • construction paper squares
  • article about habitat fragmentation

Preparation

In this activity, students will experience the realities of limiting resources in nature and how animal and plant populations are affected.

First, find an article or create an example that explains how habitat fragmentation or destruction limits the resources available for the plants and animals that remain. Additionally, be sure that you have at least one paper plate per student and plenty of construction paper squares of three different colors. Each of the three colors will represent sun, food, or water. Before the activity begins, spread the colored squares evenly around the activity space.

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