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3.1: Planning

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
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Key Ideas

  • Almost all energy originates with the sun.
  • Energy is passed from organism to organism along a food chain.


The previous section provided students with a starting point for studying ecology by distinguishing between biotic and abiotic factors. This section introduces the concept that energy flows through food chains. Students trace the flow of energy from their own breakfast food back to the sun. Students are introduced to topics such as cellular respiration, digestion, predation, and photosynthesis.



explain how energy flows through a food chain.

select a specific food and trace the food chain back to its original energy source.

explain that almost all energy used by plants and animals originates with the sun.


aerobic respiration, food chain, photosynthesis

Student Materials

Activity 2-1: Draw a Food Chain

Per student

  • Activity Report
  • Paper

Per class

  • 6 sets of marking pens, pencils, or crayons

Teacher Materials

Activity 2-1: Draw a Food Chain

  • Activity Report Answer Key

Advance Preparation

See Activity 2-1 in the Student Edition.

Prepare copies of the Activity Report.

If you decide to use Enrichment 2-1: What Do Owls Eat?, you will need to order owl pellets. See the Advance Preparation for ordering owl pellets on TE.

Interdisciplinary Connections

Language Arts Students can write a story describing the relationships within the food chain that they have examined.

Visual and Performing Arts Students can make drawings or use pictures to illustrate their food chain. These can be displayed as mobiles. In addition, the Mini Activity introduces opportunities for students to create and perform a play.

Enrichment Activity

Enrichment 2-1: What Do Owls Eat?

Students learn basic lab dissection skills and analyze the components of an owl's diet by dissecting an owl pellet.

Background Information

How Muscles Contract: How muscles contract is not discussed in detail here. However, a short discussion of muscle contraction may help the students understand the need for energy. The muscles that are in your finger are typical of muscles found in animals. Each is made up of many muscle fibers. Each of these fibers is made up of many threads called fibrils. Each of these fibrils is made up of two types of filaments-actin filaments and myosin filaments. Each myosin filament has a hook called a head, which can reach out and grab onto a neighboring actin filament and pull along it.

When all of the myosin heads in a fibril pull on their neighboring actin filaments, the fibril shortens. When all of the fibrils in a muscle fiber contract, the fiber shortens. When all of the fibers in a muscle contract, the muscle shortens and, finally, your finger twitches.

Respiration: For the sake of simplicity this section explains only aerobic respiration because it provides the bulk of the ATP that fuels muscle movement.

Chlorophylls in Photosynthesis: The explanation concerning chlorophyll used in photosynthesis is a simplification. Several types of chlorophyll photosynthesize. But, only a couple of types are found in “higher” plants. Some algae and bacteria rely on other pigments including those that are blue, red, brown, and even gold!

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Date Created:
Feb 23, 2012
Last Modified:
Apr 29, 2014
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