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  • Middle School

    Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics

Students who demonstrate understanding can:

Performance Expectations

  1. Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem. MS-LS2-1

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  2. Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple ecosystems. MS-LS2-2

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  3. Develop a model to describe the cycling of matter and flow of energy among living and nonliving parts of an ecosystem. MS-LS2-3

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  4. Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations. MS-LS2-4

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  5. Evaluate competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services. MS-LS2-5

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary

A Peformance Expectation (PE) is what a student should be able to do to show mastery of a concept. Some PEs include a Clarification Statement and/or an Assessment Boundary. These can be found by clicking the PE for "More Info." By hovering over a PE, its corresponding pieces from the Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Crosscutting Concepts will be highlighted.

Science and Engineering Practices

Developing and Using Models

Modeling in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to developing, using, and revising models to describe, test, and predict more abstract phenomena and design systems.

Analyzing and Interpreting Data

Analyzing data in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to extending quantitative analysis to investigations, distinguishing between correlation and causation, and basic statistical techniques of data and error analysis.

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

Constructing explanations and designing solutions in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to include constructing explanations and designing solutions supported by multiple sources of evidence consistent with scientific ideas, principles, and theories.

Engaging in Argument from Evidence

Engaging in argument from evidence in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to constructing a convincing argument that supports or refutes claims for either explanations or solutions about the natural and designed world(s).

Disciplinary Core Ideas

By clicking on a specific Science and Engineering Practice, Disciplinary Core Idea, or Crosscutting Concept, you can find out more information on it. By hovering over one you can find its corresponding elements in the PEs.

Planning Curriculum

Common Core State Standards Connections


  • RI.8.8 - Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is sound and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; recognize when irrelevant evidence is introduced. (MS-LS2-4), (MS-LS2-5)
  • RST.6-8.1 - Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts. (MS-LS2-1), (MS-LS2-2), (MS-LS2-4)
  • RST.6-8.7 - Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table). (MS-LS2-1)
  • RST.6-8.8 - Distinguish among facts, reasoned judgment based on research findings, and speculation in a text. (MS-LS2-5)
  • SL.8.1 - Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly. (MS-LS2-2)
  • SL.8.4 - Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with relevant evidence, sound valid reasoning, and well-chosen details; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation. (MS-LS2-2)
  • SL.8.5 - Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest. (MS-LS2-3)
  • WHST.6-8.1 - Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts. (MS-LS2-4)
  • WHST.6-8.2 - Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/ experiments, or technical processes. (MS-LS2-2)
  • WHST.6-8.9 - Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis reflection, and research. (MS-LS2-2)


  • 6.EE.C.9 - Use variables to represent two quantities in a real-world problem that change in relationship to one another; write an equation to express one quantity, thought of as the dependent variable, in terms of the other quantity, thought of as the independent variable. Analyze the relationship between the dependent and independent variables using graphs and tables, and relate these to the equation. (MS-LS2-3)
  • 6.RP.A.3 - Use ratio and rate reasoning to solve real-world and mathematical problems, e.g., by reasoning about tables of equivalent ratios, tape diagrams, double number line diagrams, or equations. (MS-LS2-5)
  • 6.SP.B.5 - Summarize numerical data sets in relation to their context. (MS-LS2-2)
  • MP.4 - Model with mathematics. (MS-LS2-5)

Model Course Mapping

First Time Visitors

Resources & Lesson Plans

  • More resources added each week!
    A team of teacher curators is working to find, review, and vet online resources that support the standards. Check back often, as NSTA continues to add more targeted resources.
  • This resource provides students with a current problem in nature- deterioration of coral reef systems-  and a sample of real world data from a scientist who is developing potential solutions to the problem. While considering the phenomenon of ho ...

  •    The Ecosystems unit is one of six unit in the Carbon TIME curriculum, which focus on carbon-transforming processes from the molecular scale to the global scale.  Ecosystems are larger systems where carbon-transforming processes ...

  • Do Insects Prefer Local Or Foreign Foods? is a lesson plan that provides a sequence of learning activities to help students understand what might determine if an exotic species will become invasive.  This lesson is divided into four parts. ...

  • This resource is an interactive model showing the role of soil in the carbon cycle.   Using arrows to represent the cycling of the carbon through the soil under a variety of conditions, it gives a visual depiction of the process.  Stud ...

  • "The Jubilee Phenomenon" is a lesson plan that provides a sequence of learning exercises to help students understand what is locally known as a "Mobile Bay jubilee"(Alabama) and the importances of preserving estuaries.  The l ...

  •   After graphing and analyzing authentic data about temperature and coral bleaching occurrences, students can use the data to construct an argument describing how the water temperature affects the mortality of the coral polyps and the associa ...

  • "Architects of Seamount Ecosystems" is a three part lesson plan that introduces students to the fascinating world of the ecologically critical seamount ecosystems.  Students participate in the construction of a Sierpinski Triangle to d ...

  • Teaching With Tarantulas is a lesson plan that provides a sequence of learning activities to help students understand the roles of predators in the health of ecosystems and the importance of preserving Earth's ecosystems.  The lesson pl ...

  • This is one of 25 assessment probes from the book,” Uncovering Student Ideas in Life Science, Volume 1: 25 New Formative Assessment Probes”, by Page Keeley and co-authors. All assessment probes in this collection are aligned to a particul ...

  • This resource provides a variety of  online materials, including a teacher guide, student worksheets, and videos.  In this lesson sequence, students analyze historic and present-day food webs and graph historic and present-day Chesapeake Ba ...

  • In this two-part lesson, students develop food webs and investigate human impacts on marine ecosystems. In Part I, students explore the ecological role of organisms in an ocean habitat and use information provided on Food Web Cards to develop food ch ...

  • This activity in the published book, Argument-Driven Inquiry in Life Science: Lab Investigations for Grades 6-8, is a 4-5 day lesson sequence that requires students to analyze data about the various species found in an ecosystem.  The resource g ...

  • The Middle School unit entitled Climate Change and Michigan Forests consists of 10 lessons on climate change and the local environment in Michigan based on forest ecology research conducted at the University of Michigan. The lessons can be adapted to ...

  • This 25 minute movie from PBS highlights the work of a group of female, middle school students in a science club. Very short cartoon portions of the video can be edited off of the beginning and end. The goal of the group of students is to improve the ...

  • This ecosystem interactive will allow the user to determine the producers and consumers (primary and secondary) in a simulated ecosystem. The user can then see the outcome of including species with particular diets, including the result of how food ...

  • The lesson includes a 7 minute video to engage students in the concern that scientists have about how release of invasive Lionfish have created a shift in the oceanic ecosystems of the Caribbean and the Florida Coast. The lesson includes ideas for th ...

  • Students investigate soil erosion by completing research of erosion, current/recent landslides, and planting a model hillside garden to best prevent erosion.

  • Using dilemma cards describing some of the issues affecting Yellowstone National Park, students work in small groups to consider management issues that meet both of the conflicting mandates that the National Park Service must follow." There are 6 dil ...

  • A resource specifically aimed to improve the content knowledge of an educator who plans to teach about the flow of matter and energy in ecosystems. Gives thorough explanation through text, graphics, and animations of all relevant ideas and how all of ...

  • This is a 4-5 day set of activities that uses a systems thinking approach to teach students about the various components of ecosystems as well as the different roles that organisms have within the ecosystem.

  • This lesson engages students in exploring the phenomenon of soil erosion at the beach, and in designing solutions to mitigate it.  In part one of this lesson, students research how wave energy affects shorelines, predict the relationship be ...

  • This lesson utilizes a video clip of a visit to the Everglades, short articles for students to read, a series of slides and a suggested project for students to complete. Students sign up for a pbsteacherline.org account (no email required) to save th ...

  • This article describes an interactive lesson in which the complexity of food webs and ecosystems is explored.  Students generate a list of organisms in a Pacific aquatic ecosystem, assign each organism to a student, and then link the organisms t ...

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Planning Curriculum gives connections to other areas of study for easier curriculum creation.