Food Webs!

Today, students learned about food webs and acted as ecologists – scientists who study the relationships among organisms and between organisms and their environment. Our young ecologists learned about different producers (plants), lower-level consumers (herbivores), and higher-level consumers (carnivores,) and that all organisms in an ecosystem are interconnected, even if they are not directly eating – or are eaten by – one another. Students also learned to be grateful for decomposers, without which we’d be surrounded by piles of dead things!

Working as a team, students constructed a food web of the Yellowstone National Park ecosystem. While constructing their food webs, students were confronted with ecosystem disruptions. They were forced to adjust their food webs to the addition of a new species or the loss of a native species. Students learned that food webs are very complex, with many intertwined organism relationships and that adding or removing a single species can have far reaching consequences!

To follow up this lesson, we recommend: building a Soda Bottle Composter to learn more about decomposition. Directions can be found at http://compost.css.cornell.edu/soda.html or at http://homebiology.blogspot.com/2009/06/soda-bottle-compost.html.

La Cadena Alimenticia

Hoy los estudiantes se convirtieron en ecólogos, que son los científicos que estudian las relaciones de los organismos entre sí y con su entorno; y aprendieron sobre la pirámide de energía y la cadena alimenticia. Nuestros pequeños ecólogos también aprendieron sobre los productores (plantas), consumidores primarios (herbívoros), consumidores secundarios (carnívoros); y que todos los organismos en un ecosistema están interconectados, incluso si no están comiendo directamente o comiéndose entre sí. Los alumnos también aprendieron a estar agradecido de los descomponedores, ya que sin ellos estaríamos rodeados de montones de cosas muertas.

Trabajando en equipos, los estudiantes construyeron la cadena alimenticia del ecosistema del Parque Nacional Yellowstone. Mientras trabajan en su cadena alimenticia, los estudiantes se enfrentaron a perturbaciones en el ecosistema. Por ejemplo, se vieron obligados a realizar ajustes debido a la incorporación de una especie nueva o por la pérdida de una especie nativa. Los alumnos aprendieron que la cadena alimenticia es muy compleja, con muchas intrincadas relaciones entre los organismos y que incorporar o eliminar una especie puede tener consecuencias de gran alcance.

Para hacer un seguimiento de esta actividad y aprender más sobre la descomposición, les recomendamos construir una “compostera” con una botella de soda. Puede encontrar instrucciones aquí: http://compost.css.cornell.edu/soda.html or at http://homebiology.blogspot.com/2009/06/soda-bottle-compost.html.

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Author

Dr. Catherine Sukow

Dr. Sukow's interest in science education began when she was a teenager, with an extended visit to San Francisco's Exploratorium. In college, she had summer jobs in a similar, smaller, museum. She focused her Master's research at NCSU on the structure of metal silicides on silicon, and her Ph. D. work at Brandeis on the structure of crossbridged actin bundles. While volunteering in her childrens' schools, she was reminded how much fun it is to teach science, and is happy to be teaching now with Science from Scientists. In her spare time, she also enjoys yoga, choral and solo singing, and attempting a variety of international cuisines.

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