Who eats whom?

It’s a fungi-eat-wolf-eat-elk-eat-grass world out there!

Last Tuesday, students acted as ecologists – scientists who study the relationships among organisms and between organisms and their environment – as they learned about the energy pyramid and food webs. Students learned that all our energy on Earth comes from the Sun and about how this energy travels through different trophic levels of organism: producers (plants), lower-level consumers (herbivores), higher-level consumers (carnivores) and decomposers.

Working as a team, they then 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!

 

La Cadena Alimenticia y la Pirámide de Energía

Martes pasado, 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. Los alumnos aprendieron que toda la energía de la Tierra proviene del Sol y que esta energía viaja a través de los organismos en diferentes niveles tróficos: productores (plantas), consumidores primarios (herbívoros), consumidores secundarios (carnívoros) y descomponedores.

Trabajando en equipos, 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.

 

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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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