Plants & Pollinators - Human Impacts & Changes In Ecosystems Storyline Bundle
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Teach ecosystems, the interactions within them, and the consequences of disruptions to their delicate balance by exploring invasive species - specifically, the arrival of "murder hornets" in the U.S. in 2020. This storyline sets students up to dig into concepts like ecosystem roles, ecosystem services, plant reproduction, pollinators and ecosystem interactions, human population growth and changes in ecosystems. The unit opens the door to examine environmental issues like invasive species, land use, modern agricultural practices, and habitat loss.
Watch a video overview here: https://vimeo.com/669955469/f191c9f339
This Bundle Includes:
1 Murder Hornets & Invasive Species - Pollinator Problems Phenomenon
Launch an investigation into invasive species, ecosystem disruptions, and mutual relationships within ecosystems with this anchor phenomenon learning experience. In this activity, students dig into resources that introduce and follow the arrival of the Asian giant hornet (aka the murder hornet). They track the emergence of this threat to North America’s honey bee population both spatially (via mapping) and through time (by creating a timeline). Then, they use their observations to develop questions that launch their student-driven investigation into pollinator population decline, its causes (and the dangers of the newfound Asian giant hornet threat), and impacts.
This activity prepares students for a summative project-based assessment that tasks students with designing an action plan to support pollinator populations in their region and developing a campaign to build public support for the issue. [See “How Can We Support Pollinator Populations?” inside the Spark Subscription or “Pollinator Population Decline - Designing Solutions Project” on TeachersPayTeachers.]
This anchor experience is designed to prompt student questions about patterns of interactions in ecosystems, human impacts, change and stability within communities, and plant reproduction. Specifically, this activity prepares students to investigate three pathways:
Why is the arrival of “murder hornets” a problem? How do organisms interact? What are invasive species? What happens when species are introduced into ecosystems? Why aren’t “murder hornets” a problem in their native ranges? How are organisms adapted to their communities?
Why are bees so important? What ecosystem services do bees provide? What is the relationship between pollinators and plant growth? How do plants reproduce? What are the effects of pollinator population decline?
What role do humans play in pollinator population decline? Why are pollinator populations in decline? How do we know? What can we do to support pollinator populations?
2 Interactions In Ecosystems Explore Card Sort (NGSS MS-LS2-2)
Guide student discovery of interactions in ecosystems - and the patterns in interactions that exist across ecosystems - in this card sort exploration task. In this activity, students read about specific interactions in ecosystems, develop their own categories to sort those interactions, and provide reasoning for their thinking – all before being introduced to official definitions to describe these concepts (predation, competition, parasitism, mutualism, commensalism). This is a perfect exploration activity for an NGSS storyline or a 5E instructional sequence on interactions in ecosystems and can easily be tied into units that address resource availability and the cycling of matter and energy in ecosystems.
This activity focuses on the Crosscutting Concept of patterns as students actively seek out patterns of interaction, and the activity incorporates the Science and Engineering Practice of Constructing Explanations, as students communicate explanations for their groupings.
This activity can easily flow into an Explain activity where the teacher provides the scientific terminology for each type of interaction (posters to highlight each definition are included), and students can reevaluate their groupings to make changes or identify further similarities within each category.
3 Investigating Invasive Species: Project Based Learning Task - Distance Learning
Explore ecology concepts through the context of invasive species in this engaging project-based learning assessment. Students should already have an understanding of ecosystem structure and ecological relationships, and they should have been introduced to the idea of changes in ecosystems. This assessment is completely aligned to NGSS MS-LS2-4 and MS-LS2-5, but it can also be adapted for the high school level.
In this activity, students research an invasive species, exploring how it has disrupted the ecosystem and affected native populations. They will create a WANTED poster to present their findings, and then they will work in teams to develop a Community Action Plan to halt the spread of the species and/or reduce the population levels of the invasive species in their region. Student groups can present their plans in any way you choose, and then students will analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each plan in light of the constraints identified at the beginning of the activity. Both parts of the project are fully aligned to the NGSS and related Evidence Statements for NGSS MS-LS2-4 and MS-LS2-5.
4 Impacts of Invasive Species on Ecosystems: CER Assessment Task (NGSS MS-LS2-4)
Assess student understanding of changes in ecosystems through this phenomenon-based performance task. Students explore the case of the cane toad in Australia by analyzing real scientific data, drawing conclusions, and then using those conclusions to construct an argument using the Claim-Evidence-Reasoning essay structure. Through this phenomenon, students will explain how the introduction of an invasive species affects native populations in an area.
5 Flower Anatomy Dissection & Pollination - Pollinators & Parts Of A Flower
Understand plant anatomy through the lens of mutually beneficial pollinator-plant relationships to make these science concepts relevant and engaging in this two-part lesson. In the first guided inquiry activity, students dissect a flower to understand how the structure of each part affects and determines its function. In the second task, students explore the role pollinators play in the sexual reproduction of plants, focusing particularly on the “matchup” between pollinators and plants in regards to their physical characteristics and behaviors.
6 Pollinators & Agriculture - Mutual Relationships In The Food Sector
Dig into the symbiotic relationship between bees and plants to uncover the importance of these mutually beneficial interactions to human society, specifically the agriculture industry. This three-part lesson engages students in
- data analysis to understand changes in honey bee populations as well as the impact of those changes on the agricultural sector of modern economies.
- a close-read text analysis task that discusses the indirect effects of declining bee populations on the dairy and meat industry
- and an opportunity for students to demonstrate their understanding by analyzing the contributions of pollinators to their own favorite meals
- To help students engage in sense-making to reach consensus as a class, supports and instructions for a gallery walk and class discussion are included.
7 Environmental Factors Affect Plant Growth Hands-On NGSS Lab
Expand student understanding of the environmental factors that impact the growth of plants through this student-designed inquiry investigation. Students make connections to relevant and engaging phenomena like hydroponics and commercial agricultural practices by exploring what plants need to thrive.
First, students design and carry out an experiment to understand how environmental conditions can affect plant growth. After sharing the results with their peers, students discuss current commercial agricultural interventions and practices designed to increase plant growth and crop production (for example: chemicals like pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides; clearing of habitats; monoculture; crop rotation; and agricultural sprinklers). Through discussion and writing, students make connections between modern agricultural practices and ecosystem impacts -- such as the unit storyline anchor, declining bee populations.
8 Mutual Relationships, Pollinators, and Plant Reproduction Assessment
Assess student understanding of symbiotic relationships in ecosystems by examining the mutualism that exists between the yucca moth and Joshua tree in this evidence-based, three-dimensional assessment.
In this assessment task, students explain the relationship between the yucca moth and the Joshua tree using the evidence provided, as well as resources from previous lessons regarding interactions in ecosystems. They support claims regarding patterns of interactions across ecosystems, as well as the relationship between plant and pollinator structure and function in plant reproduction. Finally, students make a prediction for changes in the yucca moth population as the number of Joshua trees declines as a result of human activity.
9 Pollinator and Honey Bee Population Decline Inquiry Project
Explore the threats to pollinator populations that contribute to bee population decline quickly and cohesively with this engaging webquest inquiry that utilizes a jigsaw grouping format. In this lesson, students are divided into groups and assigned a particular threat to pollinators that they will become the expert on. After completing a short webquest with provided links, students will develop consensus and reinforce their takeaways within “Threat Focus Groups” before returning to their original group to share their findings.
10 Pollinator Population Decline - Designing Solutions Project
Assess student understanding of ecosystems and the impacts of changes in ecosystems - from invasive species to mutual relationships to disruptions - in this engineering project in which students develop an action plan to support pollinator populations in their area and develop a campaign to build public support for the issue.
This task builds upon students’ work in the lesson, “Why Are Pollinator Populations In Decline?” (see “Pollinator and Honey Bee Population Decline Inquiry Project” on TeachersPayTeachers). Through the activity, students demonstrate their understanding of the impacts of changes in ecosystems, the mutual relationship between pollinators and flowering plants, flowering plant reproduction, and the importance of biodiversity and ecosystem services.
While this task is designed to guide students through developing a plan, educators are encouraged to consider whether resources are available (or could be obtained) to carry out student plans to support pollinator populations in their local communities. There may be student grant opportunities or local organizations willing to provide funding to put student action plans truly into action!
This lesson includes:
- 50+ student pages
- detailed teacher lesson guides
- complete answer keys + rubrics
*While this bundle was not designed for virtual learning, some of the included resources are compatible with distance learning and include Google Slides digital workbooks.
How can this lesson be used?
- engage students in explorations to uncover the science content
- follow-up explorations with the text workbook to clarify and reinforce understanding and make connections back to real-world phenomena
- these resources can be used by students individually or in small groups
How much class time will this take?
- provided material may two to three weeks to work through, although students who work quickly may move through the material at a faster pace
- this time frame does not account for additional resources and activities you may incorporate into your unit storyline
- storyline length can always be adapted to fit your needs
Is this NGSS-aligned?
This resource is part of a storyline (Plants and Pollinators) designed to work toward the tagged Next Generation Science Standards. Because Performance Expectations are designed to assess learning by the end of the grade band, unit material may not fully assess every Performance Expectation tagged in the post. This bundle does not include the entire Plants and Pollinators storyline.
- MS-LS2-2 Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple ecosystems. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on predicting consistent patterns of interactions in different ecosystems in terms of the relationships among and between organisms and abiotic components of ecosystems. Examples of types of interactions could include competitive, predatory, and mutually beneficial.]
- MS-LS1-4 Use argument based on empirical evidence and scientific reasoning to support an explanation for how characteristic animal behaviors and specialized plant structures affect the probability of successful reproduction of animals and plants respectively.
- MS-LS1-5 Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how environmental and genetic factors influence the growth of organisms.
- MS-LS2-4 Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.
- MS-ESS3-4 Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems.
- MS-LS2-5 Evaluate competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services.
- MS-ESS3-3 Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.
What if I have questions?
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