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Enrichment 3-1: Teacher Activity Notes

Food Web Game

PLAN

Summary

Students learn about the interdependent relationships in a food web by researching and drawing a food web focused on one organism and playing the part of that organism in the class' model of a food web.

Objectives

Students:

\checkmark identify the parts that organisms may play in a food web: producer,consumer, herbivore, carnivore, omnivore, and decomposer.

\checkmark illustrate the flow of energy in the correct direction in the food web community-from the sun to the top carnivore.

\checkmark predict the effects of changes on the organisms in the food web community.

Student Materials

Per pair

  • Activity Guide
  • Resource 1
  • Resource 2
  • Activity Report
  • 3 pieces of paper (8 \frac{1}{2} by 11 inches); 1 large piece of butcher paper or construction paper; Colored pens or crayons

Per class

  • Approximately 50 pieces of yarn/string 3 meters long (number of pieces depends on number of students participating, anticipate about 4 pieces of yarn per student)

Teacher Materials

  • Activity Report Answer Key
  • Books, posters, and magazines about the organisms in the community selected for the activity. A great reference book for the salt marsh food web is Life and Death of a Salt Marsh, by J. M. and Mildred Teal, published by Little, Brown, 1969.

Advance Preparation

Select a natural community for the class to model. You might want to choose one of the communities shown in the food web diagrams on Resources 1 and 2. Do not show the food web diagram of the community you have selected to the students right away. It can be used as an answer key when evaluating the food web posters.

Make a list on the chalkboard or overhead projector of about 20 organisms from the community you have selected.

Gather books, posters, and magazines about the organisms in the natural community you have selected.

Provide a resource area where students can obtain the necessary research materials, paper, pens, and precut yarn pieces on their own.

Estimated Time

Part A: Two to three 50-minute periods

Part B: One to two 50-minute periods

Interdisciplinary Connection

Visual/Performing Arts Students can make masks and costumes for the organisms they represent using paper plates, straws, paper towel rolls, and other craft supplies.

Prerequisites and Background Information

Students should have a thorough understanding of the terms producer, consumer, herbivore, carnivore, and omnivore.

IMPLEMENT

Part A

Introduce Enrichment 3-1 by reviewing the Introduction and Procedure for Part A with the whole class. Clarify any misconceptions about food webs and the roles the various organisms play in the food web (producer, herbivore, carnivore, and omnivore). Emphasize that an organism usually interacts with and depends on many other organisms rather than on just one or two. This will prepare students for drawing all the possible connections in their web.

Helpful Hints

To help students draw neat circles around their organisms in Step 7 of Part A, give them rolls of masking tape to trace around. You may want to use different colored pieces of yarn corresponding to the colors of the circles around the organism providing the energy. For example, the string between the producer and the herbivore would be green, corresponding to the color of the producer.

When moving from pairs to two large groups in Step 2 of Part B, give each student in the pair a number: one (1) or two (2). Tell all the “ones” to go to one side of the room and all the “twos” to go to the other side of the room.

Steps 1-3 Group students into pairs and have each pair choose a different organism from the list on the overhead projector or chalkboard.

Steps 4-7 Have students show you their rough drafts before they begin their final poster. The following are some suggestions for guiding students as they work through Steps 4-7.

  • Give students some hints for looking through reference materials.
  • Students often have trouble drawing arrows in the right direction. Emphasize that arrows follow the flow of energy. The arrows should all be one color.
  • Once students have 4 to 6 organisms that are directly connected to theirs they need to go find “secondary” organisms to expand the web to 15 organisms. Often they will have very few plants. Therefore encourage them to find plants that fit in their web so they can include the sun.
  • When students are deciding whether animals are herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores, don't let them guess. Encourage them to use the resource materials, consult with other students, or discuss their decisions with you.

Part B

Introduce Part B by hanging the food web posters on the wall so students can refer to them when constructing the web model. Label two desks with a sign with “sun” written on it to serve as the centers of the food web models.

Steps 1-2 Have students make a simple sign for themselves with the name of their organism on it so others can identify what they represent. Make sure they obtain the correct number of pieces of yarn for their organism. Guide the students as they form two large circles, with one student from each pair in each circle.

Step 3 Have one student in each group read Part B, Step 3 out loud. Then one at a time, have students walk across the circle and give the ends of their yarn to the organisms they eat.

Students will probably not find all of the organisms in their drawing represented by people in the circle since our food web examples don't include all the connections. Tell them to give yarn to as many organisms as they find represented.

Step 4 The scenarios in Step 4 of Part B are the key to illustrating the interdependence of the food web. You may choose to guide students through each scenario. Or you may let them read each one aloud and conduct the activity themselves.

When organisms are removed from the food web in the scenarios, the students representing those organisms should drop the yarn they are holding.

At the end of the activity, have students write their answers to the questions on the Activity Report.

Extend Enrichment 3-1

  • Students may draw their group's food web for each of the scenarios in Step 4 of Part B on the back of their Activity Report. Reconvene the whole class to compare what each group predicted. Discuss the idea that although each group was given the same variables and scenarios there are several possible outcomes and effects just as in a natural ecosystem.
  • The students can make masks and costumes for the organisms they represent using paper plates, straws, paper towel rolls, and other craft supplies.

ASSESS

Use the final product of Part A, a complex poster of the food web based on a single organism, and responses to the Activity Report to assess if students can

\checkmark demonstrate the connections of all organisms to the energy of the sun and to each other.

\checkmark explain the interdependence of all organisms in a food web.

\checkmark explain the concept that an organism is dependent on many other organisms in a natural community.

\checkmark demonstrate the skills necessary to research a single organism.

\checkmark demonstrate and explain the consequences of removing a part of the food web and the effects of this on the other organisms.

Enrichment 3-1 Activity Guide: Food Web Game (Student Reproducible)

Introduction

Would you survive if you ate only one kind of food? Like most animals humans need a variety of nutrients. We need to eat different organisms to get those nutrients. And the more food options we have, the more likely we are to survive if something happens to one of our food sources. For each organism we eat we become a part of many different food chains. All of these linked food chains make up the food web of our community. In this activity you and your classmates will draw the food web of one particular natural community. You will take on the part of one organism in that community and form a food web made of all the organisms in the whole class.

Materials

Per student pair

  • Resource 1
  • Resource 2
  • Activity Report
  • 3 pieces of paper (8 \frac{1}{2} by 11 inches)
  • 1 large piece of butcher paper or construction paper Colored pens or crayons

Per class

  • Approximately 50 pieces of yarn/string 3 meters long (number of pieces depends on number of students participating, anticipate about 2 pieces of yarn per student)
  • Books, posters, and magazines about the organisms in the community selected for the activity.

Procedure

Part A

Step 1 With your partner select one of the organisms in the natural community that the class has chosen to research.

Step 2 Use the books and other resources provided by your teacher to make two lists about your organism. Include in your list

  • What your organism eats. Where does the organism get its energy?
  • What your organism is eaten by. What animals get energy from your organism?

When you are finished, you should have roughly 4 to 6 organisms directly connected to your organism. You will have many organisms that aren't listed by your teacher.

Step 3 Remember the following four rules:

  • You must have at least 15 organisms in your food web.
  • You must include the sun in your food web.
  • You must connect the organisms with arrows that show the direction of the energy flow. In other words, make sure the arrows point from the source of energy toward the organism getting the energy.
  • You must show all the connections between organisms in your food web even if they aren't connected to the main organism.

Step 4 use the lists you developed in Step 3 to draw a rough draft of your food web. Start by writing the name of your organism in the middle of the paper. Label whether it is a producer, herbivore, carnivore, or omnivore.

Step 5 Choose several organisms from your two lists. Research to find out what they eat and what they are eaten by. Add these organisms to your web. Remember you need to connect 15 different organisms within the web.

Step 6 Finish your rough draft of your food web. Then identify the part played by each plant and animal in the food web. Do this by putting a circle around each organism with colored pens or crayons. Use the following colors:

Producers - Green circle

Herbivores - Blue circle

Carnivores - Red circle

Omnivores - Orange circle

Step 7 Check to make sure you have at least 15 organisms. Then check to make sure you classified them correctly. Now you can draw your food web on a large piece of paper. For this final version draw a picture of the organism inside a circle about 6 cm across. Make sure the circles are the appropriate color. (See Step 6.)

Part B

Step 1 Use your drawing to figure out the number of organisms your organism will eat. Obtain that number of pieces of yarn.

Step 2 You and your partner will split up and join one half of the class in two different large groups. Each of you is an expert on your organism. So you will represent that organism in your group's model of a food web.

Step 3 In your large group, form a circle around one of the desks in the middle of the room labeled “Sun.” One at a time each person must find the people who represent the organisms from which they get energy. Hold onto one end of each of your pieces of yarn and give the other end to your energy source. If you are a plant attach your yarn to the sun. You will also receive the end of a piece of yarn from any organism that eats you. When everyone is done you have a model of a food web!

Step 4 Try the following experiments while your group is in your food web model. Think about how each experiment affects your particular organism. Also think about how each experiment will affect the whole community over time.

  • A drought occurs and one species of producer can't survive. What happens to the organisms linked to it?
  • A developer bulldozes half the land on which your community lives and wipes out one species of herbivore. What happens to the organisms linked to it?
  • Farmers and ranchers decide that one of the carnivores in your ecosystem is killing their livestock. So they poison all the carnivores in the area. What happens to the organisms linked to the carnivores?

Enrichment 3-1 Resource 1: Food Web Game (Student Reproducible)

Enrichment 3-1 Resource 2: Food Web Game (Student Reproducible)

Enrichment 3-1 Activity Report: Food Web Game (Student Reproducible)

1. When there was a drought and one species of producer couldn't survive ...

a. What was the effect on the whole community? (Explain what happened in your model and what it represents in a natural community.)

b. What was the effect on your particular organism? (Explain what happened in your model and what it represents for a real organism.)

2. When a developer bulldozed half the land in the natural community and wiped out one species of herbivore . . .

a. What was the effect on the whole community? (Explain what happened in your model and what it represents in a natural community.)

b. What was the effect on your particular organism? (Explain what happened in your model and what it represents for a real organism.)

3. When farmers and ranchers decided that one of the carnivores in your natural community was killing their livestock and poisoned all the carnivores . . .

a. What was the effect on the whole community? (Explain what happened in your model and what it represents in a natural community.)

b. What was the effect on your particular organism? (Explain what happened in your model and what it represents for a real organism.)

Enrichment 3-2: Teacher Activity Notes

The Energy Game

PLAN

Summary

Students learn about the transfer and loss of energy along a food chain by playing a game similar to tag. In this game the goal is to gather enough energy in order to survive and continue the population of organisms.

Objectives

Students:

\checkmark describe how energy travels through an ecosystem.

\checkmark identify the resources necessary for an organism to survive and reproduce.

Student Materials

Per student

  • Activity Guide
  • Resource 1
  • Activity Report
  • plastic bag
  • calculator
  • Lamb cards (from Resource 2)
  • White poker chips (enough for 15 per student)
  • Blue poker chips (enough for 3 for every student)
  • 10 red poker chips

Teacher Materials

  • Data Report
  • Activity Report Answer Key
  • 3 containers to keep track of the chips; Clipboard; Pen or pencil; Watch or stopwatch; Whistle

Advance Preparation

Choose an outdoor area for the “habitat.” Make sure that the “habitat” is large enough for the students to run around chasing each other. (If possible, a grassy area is a good choice to illustrate the idea of grass storing the energy made from the sun.)

Determine the number of white energy chips that will be the base of your energy pyramid in the following way. Multiply the total number of students playing the game by 10. Then, add 100 chips. For example, the number needed for a class of 30 students is 400 white chips. You'll need about three blue chips per student for sheep and lambs and about 10 red chips to represent the few mountain lions.

Make 20 Lamb Cards from the master provided on TE. You will notice that Resource 2: Lamb Cards is marked “Reproducible” while Resource 1 is marked “Student Reproducible.” Any page or pages intended to be copied for the students is marked “Student Reproducible.” Any page or pages intended for your use during an activity is marked “Reproducible.”

Estimated Time

Two 50-minute periods divided in the following way.

  • Half of one period for explaining the game
  • One period to play the game and collect data
  • Half of one period to analyze game and data

Interdisciplinary Connection

Math The graphing and graph interpretation part of this activity could be done in math class with an emphasis on exploring the best way to represent a body of data in the form of a graph.

Prerequisites and Background Information

Review the concept of ecological pyramids with the students. Review graphing skills.

IMPLEMENT

Introduce Enrichment 3-2 by discussing the path that energy takes through a food chain. Begin with the sun and end with the top carnivore. You may want to give students some background or pictures of the bighorn sheep and mountain lions to provide a context for the game.

Before going outside, carefully review the rules of the game and the boundaries of the playing area. Describe how the data collected for each round of the game will be recorded on the Data Sheet. You may want to explain the game verbally instead of distributing the written instructions on the student activity pages.

Steps 1-6 Take the following things outside with you.

  • Copy of the activity instructions
  • 3 containers to keep track of the three colors of poker chips
  • Box of plastic bags (one per student)
  • 20 Lamb Cards
  • Data Report on a clipboard
  • 5 copies of Resource 1
  • Pen
  • Watch

Once at the playing field or “habitat” area outline the boundaries and describe the purpose of the game again. Scatter the 350 or more white chips evenly around the area. Give each student a blue chip to represent the available energy for the season.

Start the round. Call the end of the round after 30 seconds. Use the Rules Chart to determine who lives and dies for each round.

Steps 5-6 At the end of each round count the number of surviving plants, sheep, and mountain lions. Record this data on the Data Sheet or ask a student to do the recording.

Before starting the next round, scatter another 100 white chips that represent plants around the field. Explain that the number of plants added is the same every season because the amount of energy that comes into the system from the sun remains constant. You may want to point out that the assumption is being made that the habitat is not being degraded from season to season.

Step 7 After the third round, ask for the student with the most lambs to come forward. This person is now a mountain lion and will be chasing everyone else in order to tag them. Becoming a mountain lion means the student gives you all his or her blue and white chips and Lamb Cards. You give him or her one red chip. Remind the new mountain lion that he or she needs to tag 10 sheep in order to survive the season.

Step 8 At the end of every round from now on add a mountain lion by converting the person with the most lambs as in Step 7 above.

Play the game for 6 or 7 rounds depending on how much time you have. Then, return to the classroom to analyze the data.

Step 9 Have students graph and analyze the data in groups or as a class. Use a line graph. The x-axis should indicate the “Season Number.” The y-axis should indicate the “Population Number”-plants, sheep, or mountain lions. Students could prepare separate line graphs for each set of population data-plants, sheep, and mountain lions. Alternatively students could graph the population data for plants, sheep, and mountain lions all on the same set of axes. If they graph all three on one line graph, use different colors for the line representing each data set. Students should be able to use the graphs to see how the population sizes fluctuate and mirror each other. The changes in population size reflect how energy flows through the community.

After students have drawn their graphs, emphasize that they can analyze the information on the graphs to answer the questions on the Activity Report. As part of a class discussion of the Activity Report questions you may want to raise the following questions about the authenticity of the Energy Game.

  • Did everything truly represent the parts of an energy pyramid?
  • What was realistic and unrealistic about the game?
  • What other food chains would this game be an example of?

Extend Enrichment 3-2 by doing the graphing and graph interpretation part of this activity in math class with an emphasis on exploring the best way to represent a body of data in the form of a graph.

ASSESS

Use the students' graphs, discussion, and responses to the Activity Report to assess if students can

\checkmark trace the flow of energy through a food chain and the structure of an energy pyramid.

\checkmark construct and interpret graphs.

Enrichment Activity 3-2: The Energy Game – Activity Report Answer Key

  • Sample answers to these questions will be provided upon request. Please send an email to teachers-requests@ck12.org to request sample answers.
  1. Draw the food chain that represents what happened in the Energy Game.
  2. Describe what happened to the population of sheep during the first three seasons.
  3. How many sheep could your habitat area support over several seasons?
  4. Describe what happened to the population of bighorn sheep in the fourth season after the mountain lion appeared.
  5. Consider the mountain lion population data. How many mountain lions could your habitat area support over several seasons?
  6. What would happen if there were a drought and half of the plants died? How would this affect the sheep population over time?

Enrichment 3-2 Activity Guide: The Energy Game (Student Reproducible)

Introduction

Imagine that you and your classmates have suddenly become bighorn sheep. You receive energy from the plants that you eat. The plants you eat receive their energy from the sun. As a bighorn sheep you may be eaten by mountain lions. Some energy is used up and lost in these processes. The goal of this energy game is to obtain as much energy as possible in order to survive and keep your population growing. If you don't get enough energy, you and your offspring die. If you get more energy than you need, you can become a mountain lion. But, as a mountain lion you will need even more energy to survive.

Materials

  • Resource 1
  • Plastic bag
  • Energy chips (white, blue, and red poker chips)
  • Lamb Cards
  • Data Report
  • Calculators
  • Graph paper (optional)
  • Activity Report

Procedure

This is what each “energy” chip represents.

  • White energy chip = Energy stored in plants.
  • Blue energy chip = 10 white energy chips = energy needed by 1 bighorn sheep.
  • Red energy chip = 10 blue energy chips = 100 white energy chips = energy needed by one mountain lion.

Step 1 The game begins when the “sun” (portrayed by your teacher) scatters white energy chips on the playing field to represent the energy from the sun that is stored in plants.

Step 2 Remember that the goal of the game is to gather enough energy (white chips) to survive and grow your population of sheep (obtain a Lamb Card). One season is equal to one round of the game. You will begin the game with one blue chip (equal to 10 white chips). As a bighorn sheep you must gather 10 white chips to survive to the next round.

Step 3 You expend energy during the game by running from predators, looking for food, and generally staying alive. Therefore, at the end of each round you must turn in ALL the white chips that you gathered to your teacher. You will always have a blue chip in your hand if you survived the previous round (season). All the possible outcomes of a season are summarized on the Rules Chart.

Step 4 A round of the game, or season, lasts for 30 seconds. When your teacher signals that the round is over, you must stop running and gathering food (white energy chips) and rejoin your teacher.

Step 5 At the end of each round do the following:

a. Turn in your white energy chips and receive Lamb Cards if you earned them.

b. As a class, count and record the following data about the plant and animal populations on the Data Report.

  • The total number of surviving plants. (This is the total number of white energy chips scattered by the teacher minus the number of white energy chips gathered by the bighorn sheep.)
  • The total number of sheep surviving
  • The total number of mountain lions surviving

Step 6 For each round the teacher scatters 100 more white energy chips on the ground. Those white chips represent the new plants that have grown for the next season. Follow Step 5 for three rounds of the energy game.

Step 7 At the end of the third round the person who has the most lambs becomes a mountain lion.

In the fourth round sheep have two jobs. They have to find food (10 white energy chips). And they have to run from the mountain lions. The mountain lion needs to chase and tag 10 bighorn sheep to survive. When tagged by the mountain lion, a sheep is considered dead and must freeze or stop moving. At the end of the round each “dead” sheep must give its blue chip to the mountain lion who tagged it. Then the mountain lion can trade in 10 blue energy chips for one red energy chip. As the game continues mountain lions follow the same rules of survival, death, and population growth as the bighorn sheep. But the mountain lion uses blue energy chips and carries one red chip. If a mountain lion tags a sheep with lambs, the mountain lion can take the extra white energy chips, too. He or she may then trade in every 10 white chips for one blue chip. Five extra blue chips counts as a newborn mountain lion cub.

Step 8 At the end of every round from this point on the person with the most lambs becomes another mountain lion and follows the same rules as described in Step 7.

Step 9 At the end of the game you will create several graphs. These graphs will represent the plant, bighorn sheep, and mountain lion population data you collected at the end of each round. Use these graphs to answer the questions on your Activity Report.

Enrichment 3-2 Resource 1: The Energy Game (Student Reproducible)

Rules Chart
At the end of the round, if you have then you
Less than 10 white chips Die. Turn in your blue chip, sit out the next round and read the Facts on Decomposers below.
At least 10 but less than 15 chips (10-14) Survive. But you receive no lambs.
15 chips or more Receive a Lamb Card. In the next round you must gather 5 extra chips for each lamb. Otherwise you lose the lamb.

The same rules apply to Mountain Lions, but they carry red chips and need to gather blue chips to survive.

Game Summary:

Round 1 - Plants and Bighorn sheep

Round 2 - Plants and Bighorn sheep

Round 3 - Plants and Bighorn sheep

Round 4 - Plants, Bighorn sheep, and 1 Mountain lion

Round 5 - Plants, Bighorn sheep, and 2 Mountain lions

Round 6 - Plants, Bighorn sheep, and 3 Mountain lions

Round 7 - Plants, Bighorn sheep, and 4 Mountain lions

Facts on Decomposers

  1. Decomposers are organisms that help in the process of decay in dead plants and animals.
  2. Bacteria, microorganisms, worms, fungi, and other decomposers feed on dead organisms, break down nutrients, and recycle those nutrients in an ecosystem.
  3. Decomposers are nature's “garbage disposals.” Without decomposers dead plants and animals would pile up on the earth. Important nutrients that plants and animals depend on for growth would be locked up and lost to the ecosystem.
  4. Decomposers help recycle important nutrients by converting waste back into raw materials.

Enrichment 3-2 Resource 2: The Energy Game (Student Reproducible)

Enrichment 3-2 Data Report: The Energy Game (Student Reproducible)

1st Season 2nd Season 3rd Season 4th Season 5th Season 6th Season 7th Season
Surviving Plants
Surviving Bighorn Sheep
Surviving Mountain Lions

Enrichment 3-2 Activity Report: The Energy Game (Student Reproducible)

1. Draw the food chain that represents what happened in the Energy Game.

2. Describe what happened to the population of sheep during the first three seasons.

3. How many sheep could your habitat area support over several seasons?

4. Describe what happened to the population of bighorn sheep in the fourth season after the mountain lion appeared.

5. Consider the mountain lion population data. How many mountain lions should your habitat area support over several seasons?

6. What would happen if there were a drought and half of the plants died? How would this affect the sheep population over time?

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