3. Give each group of students a different set of Ecosystem Cards. Each set consists of six cards depicting producers and consumers typically found within a given environment.
4. Have students in each group read the information on the cards.
5. Ask students to identify which organisms are the producers in their ecosystems. Next, have the members of each group identify which cards represent different kinds of consumers (herbivores, carnivores and scavenger/decomposers).
6. Once students have identified the producers and different kinds of consumers in their ecosystems, have them discuss “who might eat whom” among the organisms depicted on their cards. For example, in the Freshwater Pond set of cards, the bluegill fish (carnivore) might eat dragonfly nymphs and snails. The snail (decomposer/scavenger) might eat the green algae, as well as waste or dead body parts from all of the other organisms in the system. Have students consider possible food sources for each of the organisms in their ecosystem.
7. Give each group a sheet of drawing paper. Instruct students to write the names of each of the organisms in their ecosystems around the edges of the sheet. Have them write the names of the producers in green, the herbivores in yellow, the carnivores in blue and the decomposer and scavengers in red.
8. Next, have students draw lines to connect each consumer to all of its food sources. They will find that there are many ways to connect even as few as six organisms within an ecosystem.
9. Encourage students to think about the complex relationships within ecosystems by asking questions such as, What would happen if there were no producers in your ecosystem? No decomposers? Where would humans fit in your food web? Do humans also depend on many different plants and animals?
Keywords: animals | bacteria | birds | carnivore | crustaceans | decomposer | diet | fish | flower | food | food chain | food group | food web | fruit | fungi | grasses | herbivore | insects | leaf | leaves | mammals | microbe | microorganism | molds | nutrient | nutrition | omnivore | plants | primary consumer | producers and consumers | reptiles | root | scavenger | secondary consumer | seed | snails | spiders | stem | worms | ecosystem
- Moreno, N., and Tharp, B. (2011) The Science of Food Teacher’s Guide. Baylor College of Medicine: Houston. ISBN: 978-1-888997-76-7
- Illustrations modified by M.S. Young. © Nova Development Corporation. Licensed for use.
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Funded by the following grant(s)
My Health My World: National Dissemination
Grant Number: 5R25ES009259
The Environment as a Context for Opportunities in Schools
Grant Number: 5R25ES010698, R25ES06932
Foundations for the Future: Capitalizing on Technology to Promote Equity, Access and Quality in Elementary Science Education