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    Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics

Students who demonstrate understanding can:

Performance Expectations

  1. Use mathematical and/or computational representations to support explanations of factors that affect carrying capacity of ecosystems at different scales. HS-LS2-1

    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.

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


  • RST.11-12.1 - Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to important distinctions the author makes and to any gaps or inconsistencies in the account. (HS-LS2-1)
  • WHST.9-12.2 - Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/ experiments, or technical processes. (HS-LS2-1)


  • 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-LS2-1)
  • HSN-Q.A.2 - Define appropriate quantities for the purpose of descriptive modeling. (HS-LS2-1)
  • HSN-Q.A.3 - Choose a level of accuracy appropriate to limitations on measurement when reporting quantities. (HS-LS2-1)
  • MP.2 - Reason abstractly and quantitatively. (HS-LS2-1)
  • MP.4 - Model with mathematics. (HS-LS2-1)

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 NetLogo simulation, developed by Uri Wilensky at Northwestern University, models three populations (wolf, sheep, grass) within an ecosystem over time. Settings within the simulation help students to make sense of the phenomenon of carrying capac ...

  • This article in the May 2016 issue of The American Biology Teacher describes three modules designed to help students engage in three-dimensional learning as they explore the phenomenon of natural population growth. Using fruit flies as a model organi ...

  • Population Explosion is a computer simulation which allows students to manipulate factors to see what happens over time to a population of sheep within an enclosed field. As the simulation runs, a graph shows the dynamic relationship between the shee ...

  • This online interactive lesson uses skills in calculation, estimation, and graphing to explore factors that influence change in two populations of different scales: lions in the Ngorongoro Crater of Tanzania, Africa, and bacteria within a petri dish. ...

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  • Students explore their own Ecological Footprint in the context of how many Earths it would take if everyone used the same amount of resources they did. They compare this to the Ecological Footprint of individuals in other parts of the world and to t...

  • These slide sets (one for the Eastern US and one for the Western US) describe how citizen observations can document the impact of climate change on plants and animals. They introduce the topic of phenology and data collection, the impact of climate c...

  • In this video, students learn that the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska in 1989 was not the sole cause of the decline of species in the local ecosystem. Rather, an explanation is posited for why some animal populations were already in decline when th...

  • In this activity, students investigate the shifting of three penguin communities in response to climate change.

  • In this lab activity, students use brine shrimp as a proxy for krill to study how environmental factors impact behavioral responses of krill in the unique environment of Antarctica.

  • This is the seventh of nine lessons in the 'Visualizing and Understanding the Science of Climate Change' website. This lesson addresses climate feedback loops and how these loops help drive and regulate Earth's unique climate system.

  • This is lesson five of a 9-lesson module. Activity explores the effects of climate change on different parts of the Earth system and on human well-being: polar regions, coral reefs, disease vectors, extreme weather, and biodiversity.

  • Students use an online simulation (https://www.biologysimulations.com/population-dynamics) to test a self-developed hypothesis. The simulation includes a plant, prey, and predator species. Students can manipulate the predator and prey starting popula...

  • Students use an online simulation (https://www.biologysimulations.com/competition) to study the competitive exclusion principle.

  • In this virtual lab students explore a key component to the development of ecosystem understanding: the oscillating patterns that occur as a result of the predation cycle (the idea that these populations are in flux with one another, as the predator ...

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