The Ecosystems unit is one of six unit in the Carbon TIME curriculum, which focus on carbon-transforming processes from the molecular scale to the global scale. Ecosystems are larger systems where carbon-transforming processes –photosynthesis, biosynthesis, digestion, and cellular respiration – are constantly occurring. In combination, these processes create food chains, food webs, and organic matter pyramids—all components of the ecological carbon cycle, which cycles matter between inorganic carbon dioxide and organic materials, and energy flow through ecosystems.
The goal of the Ecosystems unit is to introduce students to organic matter and chemical energy (in the context of combustion) using the tools for reasoning and environmental literacy practices that students will engage in during other units. Students must be able to identify organic matter from inorganic matter and understand how differences in the chemical composition of materials influence how materials and energy are transformed and moved between systems. This unit will take approximately 3 weeks to complete in its entirety.