Systems and Ecosystems

Grade Levels
5th - 10th
Resource Type
Formats Included
  • Zip
76 pages
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Through a series of hands-on model-making activities, the Systems and Ecosystems program helps students learn about interconnectedness and interdependence in ecosystems. The program begins with a storytelling exercise in which the facilitator uses a visual model to walk students through the history of wolves in Yellowstone - a classic example of a trophic cascade. Next, students create a visual model of a kelp forest ecosystem and use the model to tell the story of otters in kelp forests - another example of a trophic cascade. Lastly, to help students understand how interconnectedness and interdependence are relevant to everyday life, students create a visual model of the key relationships in their own life and reflect on the ways that their choices have direct consequences on the people and things immediately around them as well as indirect consequences on those farther away. The program addresses multiple items from both the CCSS and the NGSS.

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Total Pages
76 pages
Answer Key
Does not apply
Teaching Duration
1 Week
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations. Emphasis is on recognizing patterns in data and making warranted inferences about changes in populations, and on evaluating empirical evidence supporting arguments about changes to ecosystems.
Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems. Examples of evidence include grade-appropriate databases on human populations and the rates of consumption of food and natural resources (such as freshwater, mineral, and energy). Examples of impacts can include changes to the appearance, composition, and structure of Earth’s systems as well as the rates at which they change. The consequences of increases in human populations and consumption of natural resources are described by science, but science does not make the decisions for the actions society takes.
Evaluate the evidence supporting claims that changes in environmental conditions may result in (1) increases in the number of individuals of some species, (2) the emergence of new species over time, and (3) the extinction of other species. Emphasis is on determining cause and effect relationships for how changes to the environment such as deforestation, fishing, application of fertilizers, drought, flood, and the rate of change of the environment affect distribution or disappearance of traits in species.


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