This lesson (Chapter 2 Lesson 3) is part of a unit developed by the American Museum of Natural History, The Lawrence Hall of Science SEPUP Program, and the University of Connecticut. The unit follows the 5E model (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate) to help engage students in making sense of the movement of matter in an ecosystem. This lesson builds on the students’ food web model from Chapter 1 and expands their existing understanding. The guiding question for this lesson is, “How does matter move between the biotic and abiotic parts of an ecosystem?” First, students fill out the Anticipation Guide to share their initial thinking. Then they use a reading from the Scientific Findings in the student handouts to develop a model to show how matter, specifically carbon dioxide and water, moves between producers, consumers, and decomposers. Students further apply this thinking to describe what happens to matter when fire disrupts the Yellowstone ecosystem. Next, students construct a scientific explanation for where a plant gets the matter it needs to grow. Finally, students again reflect on their new understandings as they return to the Anticipation Guide.
To access the lesson and the unit, teachers need to download the zip file from the Achieve website Quality Examples of Science Lessons and Units.