Unit Overview

In Mosa Mack’s Biodiversity unit, students are led through a progression of three inquiry lessons that focus on factors that affect biodiversity, how to identify biodiversity in an area, and how to evaluate competing design solutions that preserve biodiversity and ecosystem services.

  • Lesson 1
    Lesson 1: Solve: Wolf Population Mystery + Vocabulary Mind Map

    Solve: Wolf Population Mystery + Vocabulary Mind Map

    Students work together to complete a biodiversity vocabulary map before helping Mosa Mack solve the issue of what to do with the increasing wolf population. By the end of The Solve, students discover that sometimes there is more than one solution to a problem and that every solution has its pros and cons. (75 mins)

  • Lesson 2
    Lesson 2: Make: Schoolyard Biodiversity

    Make: Schoolyard Biodiversity

    Students work as field biologists to discover the biodiversity of their schoolyard ecosystem. After completing a nature walk and identifying a variety of species within their ecosystem, students explore the connections between species. Students roll a “Dice of Destiny” to explore an environmental stressor and how it could impact the biodiversity in their ecosystem. Students will design a team poster to compare biodiversity before and after the environmental stressor. (200 mins)

  • Lesson 2
    Lesson 2: Extension: Ecosystem Threats

    Extension: Ecosystem Threats

    As an environmental guide for Eco Tours Company, students will construct food webs to investigate the cycling of matter and energy in the savanna, ocean, and desert ecosystems. They will use their food webs to analyze major ecosystem disruptions to support or refute the claim that an event occuring in one part of the ecosystem will not impact the region's biodiversity. (90 minutes)

  • Lesson 3
    Lesson 3: Engineer: Create and Compare Competing Design Solutions to Maintain Biodiversity

    Engineer: Create and Compare Competing Design Solutions to Maintain Biodiversity

    Students develop and design a proposal that preserves the biodiversity and ecosystem services of their chosen ecosystem. (150 mins)

  • Next Generation Science Standards
    Develop a model to describe the cycling of matter and flow of energy among living and nonliving parts of an ecosystem. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on describing the conservation of matter and flow of energy into and out of various ecosystems, and on defining the boundaries of the system.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include the use of chemical reactions to describe the processes.]
    Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on recognizing patterns in data and making warranted inferences about changes in populations, and on evaluating empirical evidence supporting arguments about changes to ecosystems.]
    Evaluate competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services.* [Clarification Statement: Examples of ecosystem services could include water purification, nutrient recycling, and prevention of soil erosion. Examples of design solution constraints could include scientific, economic, and social considerations.]
  • Inquiry Scale
    • Each lesson in the unit has an Inquiry Scale that provides directions on how to implement the lesson at the level that works best for you and your students.
    • “Level 1” is the most teacher-driven, and recommended for students in 4th-5th grades. “Level 4” is the most student-driven, and recommended for students in 7th-8th grades.
    • For differentiation within the same grade or class, use different inquiry levels for different groups of students who may require additional support or an extra challenge.
  • Common Misconceptions
    • Learners may initially think that humans aren’t impacted by an ecosystem’s biodiversity. Emphasize that biodiversity impacts humans because all living things are connected. Our food sources and the health of our environment are two factors that can be impacted by biodiversity.
    • Students may think that predators necessarily reduce the biodiversity in an ecosystem. Emphasize that predators maintain a balance in an ecosystem, which maintains healthy biodiversity.
    • Students may believe that only animals can benefit from ecosystems. Emphasize that humans benefit from many ecosystem services, including water and air purification, erosion control, climate regulation, fuel and food sources, and medicinal benefits.
    • Students may initially think that there is only one solution to a problem. Emphasize to students that solutions often have pros and cons, and competing design solutions need to be examined closely in order to determine the right action for a given situation.
  • Vocabulary
      • Ecosystem
      • Predator
      • Population
      • Biodiversity
      • Endangered species
      • Species
  • Content Expert
    • Justin Wright
      Department of Biology Duke University
  • Leveled Reading

    * To give our users the most comprehensive science resource, Mosa Mack is piloting a partnership with RocketLit, a provider of leveled science articles.

    • Bringing it Back

      This article gives students an intro to important considerations when looking at human impact. We define renewal, and describe the importance of biodiversity. Students are also introduced to human cause erosion and the importance of water to the health of an ecosystem.

    • Webs Are Not Only For Spiders

      Food webs are much more complicated than a simple food chain, and they show the way that energy is exchanged by organisms. Since there are so many different thing connected in ecosystems, balance of each resource is very important and difficult to maintain.

    • Changing Ecosystems, Changing Populations

      As ecosystems change due to human influences, we're noticing the potent impacts of biuodiversity loss. In this article, we introduce students to both overfishing and the effects of a monoculture