HS-LS2-2 Use mathematical representations to support and revise explanations based on evidence about factors affecting biodiversity and populations in ecosystems of different scales.
Clarification Statement: Examples of mathematical representations include finding the average, determining trends, and using graphical comparisons of multiple sets of data.
Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to provided data.
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 engage in three-dimensional learning by manipulating values for factors that may impact the stability of different populations within a model ecosystem. When the simulation is run, a graph of each population’s size over time is shown. The initial populations’ sizes may be set, allowing students to see the impact of different scales. If “off” is selected for the “constant-simulation-length?” switch, the simulation will run indefinitely. In this case, the populations may get significantly larger and offer more opportunities to compare the model at different orders of scale. Students may then select additional constraints, such as the number of invaders, the amount of energy each invader consumes, the percentage of grassland burned by fire, and the percentage of bugs killed by disease. Teachers should allow students to first familiarize themselves with the instructions and the simulation. Selecting the “Info” tab at the top of the simulation will provide students with essential information about how to use the simulation as well as what each slider parameter represents. Once students are comfortable with using the simulation, one suggestion is for students to ask a specific question, make a prediction based on their question, and then design and execute an experiment that will provide evidence to either support or refute their prediction. Additional opportunities to support and defend their explanations with peers would increase the engagement and learning of this exercise.