Adopt an Ecosystem Project Grade Ten

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1 Ohio Standards Connection: Life Sciences Benchmark F Explain the structure and function of ecosystems and relate how ecosystems change over time. Indicator 15 Explain how living things interact with abiotic and biotic components of the environment (e.g., predation, competition, natural disasters and weather). Lesson Summary: In this lesson, students will choose an ecosystem to observe the interaction of living organisms with biotic and abiotic factors in that ecosystem. Students will keep journals of observations and reflections and have those journals reviewed by peers and teacher. Students then will create final oral presentations using visual aids, and those projects will be reviewed by peers and teacher. The presentations may be made at the end of a unit on ecology. Estimated Duration: Two hours and 30 minutes Commentary: This lesson allows students the opportunity to observe and reflect on the ecosystem in which they live. Students will be asked to make observations of a particular area and note the interactions between biotic and abiotic factors and how those interactions impact the environment. Students also are asked to predict changes that could occur if one or more factors are altered in the system. This lesson provides students with a real-world opportunity to think about and examine their surroundings. Pre-Assessment: Distribute Attachment A, Pre-Assessment, and have students answer the questions to check for understanding. Scoring Guideline: Use Attachment B, Pre-Assessment Key, to evaluate student performance. Students will not receive scores for the preassessment. It is meant to give information on each student s readiness to learn content and to give students a preview of the content to be learned. Post-Assessment: Students will work in groups of four or five to prepare oral presentations to summarize observations of the interactions between biotic and abiotic factors. See Attachment C, Project Guidelines. 1

2 Scoring Guidelines: Use the peer evaluations and the rubric in Attachment D, Project Scoring Guidelines, to assess student work. Instructional Tip: When reviewing student work, be sure to look for all types of interactions (biotic/biotic and abiotic/biotic). Make sure there is evidence of change in the ecosystem. Be sure that students have identified many factors (20 for a score of four). Student presentations must be focused and organized. Instructional Procedures: 1. Provide an article, video clip or presentation about an ecosystem and its disruption. Possible topics include Mt. Saint Helens, El Niño, Exxon Valdez, wildfires, flooding, Yellowstone, etc. 2. Provide a mini-lecture on biotic and abiotic factors. Use the chosen media above to illustrate the various factors and discuss the significance of the interactions that take place in the ecosystem. 3. Discuss the pre-assessment questions. Review concepts of predator-prey, competition, parasitism, mutualism and commensalism. 4. Have each student choose an ecosystem to observe (a or b): a. Natural observation area (home, yard, school, etc.); b. Students make and/or monitor a terrarium or aquarium. Instructional Tip: The terrarium should have enough time to establish equilibrium so that sufficient biotic/abiotic and biotic/biotic interactions can be observed to provide a clear understanding of ecosystem concepts. 5. Guide students to record what they see in their ecosystems and predict how those ecosystems change over time (e.g., the types of plants, animals, soil, water, temperature, ph). 6. Have students share ideas and record their comments in small groups of two to four students. Allow 10 to 15 minutes for this activity. 7. Have students make observations and record the data in their science journals. Data include biotic and abiotic factors as well as interactions among living organisms and those factors. Remind students to record specific observed interactions and label them appropriately, abiotic/biotic or biotic/biotic. Include drawings or visual representations of the ecosystems and interactions. Allow students to record observations for a designated period of time (during a change in season). Ideally, this could be a year-long observation. 8. Organize students into groups of three to complete peer reviews of journals. Peer reviews are recorded in the journal so that each student receives feedback from several peers. Use Attachment C, Project Guidelines, to guide student review of journals. 9. Collect journals for teacher feedback and return to the students. Students can respond to peer or teacher review. 10. Have students complete journals and compile data. Students should now choose the mode for their final presentations (poster, multi-media presentation, etc.). 11. Distribute and explain Attachment C, Project Guidelines. 12. Have students prepare and deliver their presentations. 2

3 13. Have students in the audience complete peer reviews. Differentiated Instructional Support: Instruction is differentiated according to learners needs, to help all learners either meet the intent of the specified indicator(s) or, if the indicator is already met, to advance beyond the specified indicators. Provide students with assistance with the record keeping portion of this activity. Provide writing prompts for students needing assistance with their journal. Reduce the number of biotic and abiotic factors for the presentation. Have students use a viewfinder or cardboard tube to focus observations. Challenge students to conduct an independent study on ecosystems and present information to the class. Extensions: Find a news article concerning succession (e.g. Yellowstone fires) and compare to the ecosystem used in class. Predict how abiotic and biotic factors would be affected by a natural disaster (flooding, earthquake, etc.). Create a concept map illustrating the interactions between biotic and abiotic factors. Predict what would happen if mosquitoes/snakes were eliminated. Provide students with a critical-thinking question about organisms in the Ohio ecosystem. (e.g., blue jays were present in your yard all year, now they are gone. Explain what environmental factors caused them to die. One answer is the West Nile Virus). Look at closed systems (the Biodome in Tucson, Arizona, submarines, space shuttle, bottle biology, etc.). Homework Options and Home Connections: Encourage students to visit state or city parks and describe the biotic and abiotic factors and their interactions. Have students use what they have learned about ecosystems to develop a background or community garden. Contact the Ohio Department of Natural Resources about hunting regulations and their impact on the ecosystem. Material and Resources: The inclusion of a specific resource in any lesson formulated by the Ohio Department of Education should not be interpreted as an endorsement of that particular resource, or any of its contents, by the Ohio Department of Education. The Ohio Department of Education does not endorse any particular resource. The Web addresses listed are for a given site s main page, therefore, it may be necessary to search within that site to find the specific information required for a given lesson. Please note that information published on the Internet changes 3

4 over time, therefore the links provided may no longer contain the specific information related to a given lesson. Teachers are advised to preview all sites before using them with students. For the teacher: For the students: Classroom terrarium or aquarium (for students choosing option B), field guides to identify organisms. Journal, the Internet, pen or pencil, field guides to identify organisms. Vocabulary: ecosystem abiotic biotic predation competition parasitism mutualism commensalism Technology Connections: Have students use presentation software to explain observation areas/ecosystems. Use digital photos of observation areas for visual aids. Use online field guide/resources to identify organisms. Use CD ROM of bird, frog and insect songs to help identify biotic factors in an ecosystem. Have students explore a virtual ecosystem. Use the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Web site to identify organisms in their ecosystem Research Connections: Barraza, Laura. Children s Drawing About the Environment. Environmental Education Research 5:1 (1999) This particular research study used artistic drawings from British and Mexican students to evaluate their environmental perceptions. This is important for it reinforces the fact that students can express their understanding of the environment through drawings. Marzano, R., Pickering, D., Pollock, J. Classroom Instruction that Works: Research-Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement. Alexandria, Va: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development Identifying similarities and differences enhances students understanding of and ability to use knowledge. This process includes comparing, classifying, creating metaphors and creating analogies and may involve the following: 4

5 Presenting students with explicit guidance in identifying similarities and differences. Asking students to independently identify similarities and differences. Representing similarities and differences in graphic or symbolic form. Nonlinguistic representations help students think about and recall knowledge. This includes the following: Creating graphic representations (organizers); Making physical models; Generating mental pictures; Drawing pictures and pictographs; Engaging in kinesthetic activity. Cooperative-learning groups have a powerful effect on student learning. This type of grouping includes the following elements: Positive interdependence; Face-to-face promotive interaction; Individual and group accountability; Interpersonal and small group skills; Group processing. Generating and testing hypotheses engages students in one of the most powerful and analytic of cognitive operations. It deepens students knowledge and understanding. Any of the following structured tasks can guide students through this process: Systems analysis; Problem solving; Historical investigation; Invention; Experimental inquiry; Decision making. Wiggings, Grant and Jay McTighe, Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA: Facets 1: Explanation, Students have opportunities to build, test, and verify theories or explanations. Encourages students to work toward more learning through less teaching. Attachments: Attachment A, Pre-Assessment Attachment B, Pre- Assessment Key Attachment C, Project Guidelines Attachment D, Project Scoring Guidelines 5

6 Attachment A Pre-Assessment 1. Name three different ecosystems. OR Name two different types of ecosystems found within five miles of your home. 2. For ONE of the above ecosystems, name five different biotic factors and five different abiotic factors. a. a. b. b. c. c. d. d. e. e. 3. For the ecosystem you chose in question two, suggest three things that might cause change in the system over time. 4. Explain what happens when two organisms in the same ecosystem are trying to eat the same foods or use the same types of shelter at the same time. Why is this interaction a problem for the organisms? 5. Define the following terms: a) predation b) competition c) parasitism d) mutualism e) commensalism 6

7 Attachment B Pre-Assessment Key 1. Examples in Ohio include: mature forest, marsh, lake or pond, urban park, grassland 2. Examples for grassland biotic: wildflowers, grass, tree swallow, cricket, wren, mosquito, deer, deer tick. abiotic: soil acidity, soil mineral content, rainfall, wind or wind storms, amount of sun, average low or high temperatures 3. Examples for grassland: fire, introduction of new mammal species by man, nearby airpollution, drought, increased rainfall, etc. 4. This is an example of competition between two biotic components of the ecosystem. The problem is caused by limited resources sought by multiple species. 5. a) An instance when one organism consumes another organism for survival. b) An instance when one organism or group competes with another organism or group for resources required for survival. c) A symbiotic relationship where one organisms lives in, with or on a host organism. The host organism is usually harmed. d) A symbiotic relationship where one organism lives with another and both organisms benefit. e) A symbiotic relationship where one organism lives with another organism and one benefits and the other is neither harmed nor helped. 7

8 Attachment C Project Guidelines Work in groups of three or four to present a summary of the observations and interactions of biotic and abiotic factors in a selected ecosystem. (See criteria below.) Final presentations must include a visual aid. During your presentation, your peers will evaluate your project based on the following requirements: a. Identify the ecosystem and make a visual representation. b. Define the terms biotic and abiotic. c. List 10 biotic and 10 abiotic factors in the selected ecosystem d. Predict what types of observations one can expect to see in the selected ecosystem between biotic and abiotic factors. e. Categorize and give examples of five observed interactions. (e.g. predation, competition, etc.) f. Analyze what happens as a result of these interactions. g. Explain how the ecosystem changes over time. One month. One year. Five years. Twenty-five years. Why or why not? h Explain what caused the ecosystem to change over time and how it changed. I If this trend continued, describe what effect it might have on the ecosystem. j. Predict how human interaction might affect the ecosystem. Checklist for Student Activity Place a check mark on the line when the section is complete. Choose an ecosystem Obtain a journal and define terms Make and record predictions of interactions Make visual representation of observation area Review peer comments and make revisions Prepare for final presentation Make final presentation 8

9 Attachment D Project Scoring Guidelines Peer Evaluation of Final Oral Presentation Each student will complete the evaluation form for each presentation. Name of Evaluator: Title of Oral Presentation: Presenter(s): Explain how one abiotic or biotic factor caused change in the ecosystem. Explain how the abiotic/biotic or biotic/biotic factors interacted within the ecosystem. Use the rubric to evaluate each presenter for the following criteria: a) Define and then list 10 biotic and 10 abiotic factors in the ecosystem. b) Comments made on initial predictions made in journal. c) Categorize (predation, competition, etc.) and give examples of five observed interactions. d) Analyze what happened as a result of these interactions. e) How did the ecosystem change over time? What happened as a result of this change? f) What caused the ecosystem to change over time and how did it change? 9

10 Attachment D Project Scoring Guidelines Continued Depth of Understanding: Analysis of biotic/biotic or abiotic/biotic interactions and predictions Depth of Understanding: Changes that occurred in the ecosystem. Depth of Understanding: Vocabulary: Identification of abiotic and biotic factors. Communication: Focus and organization Level 4 Level 3 Level 2 Level 1 Predictions and Predictions and Predictions and evaluations of evaluations of evaluations of interactions are interactions are interactions are clearly identified implied. unclear or Evidence and Evidence and absent. explanations are explanations are clear and logical. implied. Predictions and evaluations of interactions are clearly identified and researched. Evidence and explanations are clear and logical. Evidence and explanations have a clear and logical relationship. Twenty factors are identified accurately. Presentation is effectively focused and organized. Evidence and explanations have a logical relationship. Sixteen factors are identified accurately Presentation is focused and organized. Evidence and explanations have an implied relationship. Twelve factors are identified accurately Presentation has some focus and organization. Evidence and explanations have no relationship Eight or fewer factors are identify accurately Presentation lacks focus and organization. Adapted from Council of Chief State School Officers State Collaborative on Assessment and Student Standards (SCASS) Science Project, April Tip: When reviewing student work, be sure to look for all types of interactions (biotic/biotic and abiotic/biotic). Make sure that there is evidence of change in the ecosystem. Be sure that students have identified many factors (20 for a score of four). Presentations must be focused (on topic without extraneous material) and organized (follow a logical sequence). 10

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