HS-LS2-1 Use mathematical and/or computational representations to support explanations of factors that affect carrying capacity of ecosystems at different scales
Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on quantitative analysis and comparison of the relationships among interdependent factors including boundaries, resources, climate, and competition. Examples of mathematical comparisons could include graphs, charts, histograms, and population changes gathered from simulations or historical data sets.
Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include deriving mathematical equations to make comparisons.
This resource appears to be designed to build towards this performance expectation, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.
Tips for Including the Performance Expectation
This simulation does not allow for students to compare ecosystems of different scales; it does, however, allow students to manipulate variables to understand multiple factors that will impact population size over time and to see how carrying capacity may be reached. It may be helpful to allow students to familiarize themselves with the simulation until they have a good sense of what each control does. Students will deepen their understanding of factors that influence carrying capacity if they are thoughtful in how they use the simulation. Consider ways to structure the activity so that students ask questions first and then see how they can use the simulation to answer their questions. It is also possible to use the simulation to provide evidence to support claims. Students can be encouraged to think about a particular factor, such as predation, and make a statement about how they think this one factor will affect the carrying capacity of the ecosystem for the sheep population. Providing plenty of opportunities for students to share their explanations with one another will also deepen their understanding about how factors such as predation, birth rate, death rate, and food availability affect the carrying capacity.