How Can We Predict Change in Ecosystems?

How Can We Predict Change in Ecosystems?

How Can We Predict Change in Ecosystems? is part of Smithsonian Science for the Classroom, a brand-new curriculum series by the Smithsonian Science Education Center. It is aligned to a group of grade 5 standards. It has a focus on life science with a secondary focus on physical science. In this module, students:

  • Carry out investigations to provide evidence that plants get most of their matter from air and water.
  • Analyze data showing that animals get both matter and energy by consuming food.
  • Develop and use food web models to track matter and energy flows in ecosystems.
  • Obtain information about the causes and effects of invasive species.
  • Use models to support a prediction about which of two coastal locations is more likely to be invaded by a nonnative sea squirt. 

Below are digital resources that support teaching of this module.

Lesson 1: From Seedling to Skyscraper

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This video shows a variety of ecosystems.

What I Already Know
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These images are used in part of the pre-assessment.

Lesson 2: It's a Gas

Bromothymol Blue
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This image shows how the color of bromothymol blue (BTB) changes as carbon dioxide levels increase.

Lesson 3: From Thin Air

Key for Representing Energy and Matter
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This file is a key to the symbols used to represent energy and matter in a food web diagram.

Lesson 5: Active Animals

Animal Energy and Matter
These videos show several examples of juvenile and adult animals carrying out behaviors.

Zoo Animals
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This file contains graphs showing food intake and body weight as well as photos for three zoo animals.

Lesson 6: Eating for Energy

Nutrition Labels
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This file shows examples of nutrition labels, as well as the labels for peanuts and marshmallows.

Energy in Food
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This video shows a peanut and marshmallow burning.

Serving Size
These FDA links describe changes to serving sizes on standard nutrition labels.

Lesson 8: A Tangled Web

Sample Food Web
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This food web includes plants and animals in a desert environment.

Lesson 9: Cleanup Crew

Decomposition Time Lapse
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This video shows time-lapse footage of food rotting and molding.

Growing Mold
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This file lists the events in an investigation about mold on a piece of bread.

Lesson 11: A Whale's Tale

Southern Resident Killer Whales
This video is about the population of southern resident killer whales. (Stop the video at 0:51.)

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This file has photos and descriptions of types of plankton.

Killer Whale Population Graph
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This graph shows the killer whale population between 1995 and 2018.

Lesson 12: The Lion's Share

Ecosystem Takeovers
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This file shows several photos of invasive species taking over their environment.

Lesson 13: Top Trout

Yellowstone Lake
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This file shows a map of Yellowstone National Park and several photos of the lake.

Lesson 14: Surveying Sea Squirts Part 1

Sea Squirts
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This video shows live sea squirts.

NEMESIS Database
This links to SERC’s marine invaders database.

Lesson 15: Surveying Sea Squirts Part 2

Science Challenge: Surveying Sea Squirts
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This file contains a description of the Science Challenge.

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