Bottle Biology Terrarium

Contributor
Dr. Laura Hare Charitable Trust Indiana Department of Education – Center for School Improvement and Performance
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Experiment/Lab Activity , Activity
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

Reviews

Description

Students will create a terrarium, make observations of the terrarium, then develop a model to explain how matter transfers within the ecosystem. This resource describes the process of creating a terrarium (which will serve as the phenomena that the students observe), but does not include specific lesson details or instructional strategies.

Intended Audience

Educator
Educational Level
  • Informal Education
  • Grade 4
  • Elementary School Programming
  • Upper Elementary
  • Grade 5
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

5-LS2-1 Develop a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment.

Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on the idea that matter that is not food (air, water, decomposed materials in soil) is changed by plants into matter that is food. Examples of systems could include organisms, ecosystems, and the Earth.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include molecular explanations.

This resource was not designed to build towards this performance expectation, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Students could use the observations collected from the terrarium to construct a model. This model should include the animals, plants, decomposers, and elements of the ecosystem. It should show the relationships between the organisms in terms of what they consume or decompose, and the relationships between the balance within the ecosystem. The model should serve as a tool to help students predict what would happen if the organisms in the system changed in population or if the ecosystem changed.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource was not designed to build towards this science and engineering practice, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students would collect data from observations of the terrarium over time. They would look for the types or organisms in the terrarium, the characteristics of the ecosystem, and the interactions among the organisms and with the ecosystem.

This resource was not designed to build towards this science and engineering practice, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Although the students are creating the terrarium, as a culminating activity students should construct at representation of their physical model (illustration or using technology) using arrows to show the flow of matter in their terrariums. *Please note that students construct a model based on the observational data collected when viewing the terrarium.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Students should observe their terrariums to make connections to the flow of matter within the terrarium ecosystem. Students should collect observations that will serve as the evidence for the models that create. This model should include the animals, plants, decomposers, and elements of the ecosystem. It should show the relationships between the organisms in terms of what they consume or decompose, and the relationships between the balance within the ecosystem. The model should serve as a tool to help students predict what would happen if the organisms in the system changed in population or if the ecosystem changed.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource was not designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Relate the term ecosystem to system. Ask students what components are in their terrariums and how do those components interact. Explicitly ask students how the ecosystem and organism interact. Look for evidence of understanding in their models.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This lesson presents a phenomena that students can observe. These observations can then be analyzed and then used in their models of ecosystems. Once students have constructed their models they should be provided time to share their models with other and then revise their explanatory models.

  • Instructional Supports: This lesson does not include extra supports for struggling students or modifications for ELL students.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: Instructors can gauge student learning by the final models that students develop (looking for the components, relationships, and connections described in the PE alignment section), but a rubric is not provided.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: The lesson can range in technology usage depending on the instructor and resources. Students can complete their representations of their models using technology applications such as https://bubbl.us/.