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    Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics

Students who demonstrate understanding can:

Performance Expectations

  1. Use mathematical representations to support claims for the cycling of matter and flow of energy among organisms in an ecosystem. HS-LS2-4

    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

Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking

Mathematical and computational thinking in 9–12 builds on K–8 experiences and progresses to using algebraic thinking and analysis, a range of linear and nonlinear functions including trigonometric functions, exponentials and logarithms, and computational tools for statistical analysis to analyze, represent, and model data. Simple computational simulations are created and used based on mathematical models of basic assumptions.

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


  • HSN-Q.A.1 - Use units as a way to understand problems and to guide the solution of multi-step problems; choose and interpret units consistently in formulas; choose and interpret the scale and the origin in graphs and data displays. (HS-LS2-4)
  • HSN-Q.A.2 - Define appropriate quantities for the purpose of descriptive modeling. (HS-LS2-4)
  • HSN-Q.A.3 - Choose a level of accuracy appropriate to limitations on measurement when reporting quantities. (HS-LS2-4)
  • MP.2 - Reason abstractly and quantitatively. (HS-LS2-4)
  • MP.4 - Model with mathematics. (HS-LS2-4)

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.
  • Ecosystems is one of six units in the Carbon: Transformations in Matter and Energy (Carbon TIME) curriculum, which was developed through an NSF-funded research collaboration focused on learning progressions to support environmental literacy.  Th ...

  • This is one of 30 lessons from the NSTA Press book Scientific Argumentation in Biology. The lesson engages students in an argumentation cycle based on an engaging scenario in which their group is a farm family trying to survive a dust bowl winter wit ...

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  • This interactive animation focuses on the carbon cycle and includes embedded videos and captioned images to provide greater clarification and detail of the cycle than would be available by a single static visual alone.

  • This video introduces phytoplankton - the base of the marine food web, the source of half of the oxygen on Earth, and an important remover of CO2 from the atmosphere. The video also explains how satellites are used to monitor phytoplankton and how wa...

  • This series of five activities about ocean acidification incorporates real data from NOAA. The activities are organized as a pathway, with five levels increasing in sophistication, and different data-based inquiry activities.

  • This activity leads students through a sequence of learning steps that highlight the embedded energy that is necessary to produce various types of food. Students start by thinking through the components of a basic meal and are later asked to review t...

  • This is a long-term inquiry activity in which students investigate locations they believe harbor cellulose-digesting microbes, collect samples, isolate them on selective media, and screen them for cellulase activity. These novel microbes may be usefu...

  • This video illustrates how one community developed and implemented a sustainable solution to help keep stream water cool enough for healthy fish. Their solution has the added benefit of removing CO2 from the atmosphere.

  • In this activity, students explore the basic living requirements of algae (phytoplankton)through hands-on experience and an interactive game. Students investigate what algal biofuels are, how they are made, where they can grow, and, most importantly,...

  • This animated video outlines Earth's energy. The video presents a progression from identifying the different energy systems to the differences between external and internal energy sources and how that energy is cycled and used.

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