In the Food Web unit, students are led through a progression of three inquiry lessons that focus on interactions in the environment, predator-prey relationships, and the transfer of energy within an ecosystem.
Solve: Hungry Frog Mystery + Vocabulary Mind Map
Make: Design a Food Web to Show Feeding Relationships
Engineer: Engineer a Solution to a Food Waste Problem
- Next Generation Science Standards
- Support an argument that plants get the materials they need for growth chiefly from air and water. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on the idea that plant matter comes mostly from air and water, not from the soil.]
- Develop a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on the idea that matter that is not food (air, water, decomposed materials in soil) is changed by plants into matter that is food. Examples of systems could include organisms, ecosystems, and the Earth.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include molecular explanations.]
- Use models to describe that energy in animals’ food (used for body repair, growth, and motion and to maintain body warmth) was once energy from the sun. [Clarification Statement: Examples of models could include diagrams, and flow charts.]
- 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
- Arrows in a food web show the direction of energy flow, not which predators eat which prey. Directionality of arrows matters.
- Not all of the energy in one organism gets passed to the next level of organism. 90% gets released as heat.
- Not all organisms need to eat others to get energy. Producers produce their own energy from the sun.
- Primary Consumer
- Secondary Consumer
- Content Expert
- Clive G. Jones
Terrestrial Ecologist, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies Expertise: Biodiversity, Environmental Management Modeling and Assimilation Office
- Clive G. Jones
- 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.
- Energy Pyramid
Energy for life starts out with producers, those organisms that can make their own food. From there, energy is lost to the environment as each different living thing is consumed by another. We can use a pyramid to envision the spread of life at each level and how energy is passed up to higher level organisms.
- The Sun Powers It All
Introducing the unit, this article builds up that in order for everything to have the energy it needs to live, we need the sun and the organisms that make food from its energy. These organisms store the energy they make and are used by other living things to get the energy they need.
- Can't We All Just Get Along?
In cartoons, we might see different organisms being either friends or enemies, but in nature it's much more complicated. Symbiotic relationships change the way both organisms live, and some can be mutualistic (good for both). Some relationships are parasitic (take, hurt, take) and others are more commensal which help one organism involved and don't hurt the other.
- What's Your Job?
Different organisms have different jobs in an ecosystem, but sometimes they step on each other's toes. This article explains how organisms compete with each other for living space, the roles that they have and the niches that they fit into within their environment.
- Nitrogen Cycle
In this article, students read about the different parts of the nitrogen cycle. We breathe in nitrogen with every breath, but we can't use any of it. Without bacteria and plants making nitrogen available, living things wouldn't even have the things they need to build DNA!
- What's For Dinner?
In the energy pyramid and food web, there are specific roles that different organisms play. Some put energy into the system, others eat each other for energy, and some breakdown dead things to recycle them back into the environment.
- 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.
- Energy Pyramid