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Flow of Energy in an Ecosystem Lesson Plan

Instructor: Adrianne Baron

Adrianne has taught high school and college biology and has a master's degree in cancer biology.

Energy is the main reason why we and all other animals eat. Your students will have an interesting learning experience as they watch a video and draw energy pyramids.

Learning Objectives

At the completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Define food chains
  • Identify trophic levels in a food chain
  • Illustrate the flow of energy through trophic levels

Length

1.5 - 2 hours

Curriculum Standards

  • HS-LS2-6. Evaluate claims, evidence, and reasoning that the complex interactions in ecosystems maintain relatively consistent numbers and types of organisms in stable conditions, but changing conditions may result in a new ecosystem.
  • HS-LS2-8. Evaluate evidence for the role of group behavior on individual and species' chances to survive and reproduce.

Materials

  • Computer with projector
  • Copies of the lesson quiz
  • Index card with the name of a different animal or plant from different biomes on each card
  • Colored pencils
  • Student computers
  • Legal sized printer paper

Instruction

  • Start this lesson by asking your students why they eat food. Allow several students to answer and write their answers on the board. If someone says 'energy', then circle it. If not, then write it on the board and circle it.
  • Tell your students that the main reason why they need food is to give their body energy to do things throughout the day. Remind your students that energy is not created or destroyed, but rather changes from one form or from one location to another such as from one living organism to another.
  • Let your students know they are going to learn about the flow of energy through an ecosystem as they watch the Food chains, Trophic Levels and Energy Flow in an Ecosystem video.
  • Play the video for your students and pause it for periodic discussions.
  • Start the video from the beginning and pause it the first time at 2:33. Ask and discuss the following as a class:
    • What is a food chain?
    • What is the role of a producer in a food chain?
    • From where does a producer get its energy?
    • What is the role of a consumer in a food chain?
    • What are some examples of consumers?
  • Continue playing the video and pause it again at 5:18 to ask and discuss the following together as a class:
    • What are the different trophic levels?
    • What is a food web?
    • What is an autotroph?
    • What do omnivores eat?
    • What is the role of a detritovore?
    • Why are detritovores important to an ecosystem?
  • Continue playing the video and pause it once again at 8:21 to ask and discuss the following as a class:
    • What percentage of energy is used by autotrophs as they make their food?
    • What percentage of the energy received by the autotroph does the primary consumer get once it eats the autotroph?
    • What percentage of energy is passed along as you go up each level of the food chain?
    • What happens with the other percentage of energy not passed along?
  • Play the rest of the video for your students and answer any questions they have at this point in the lesson.

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