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In this activity students are going to demonstrate their understanding of the transfer of energy between living things by creating different food chains. The arrows in the food chain represent the flow of energy and also the transfer of matter. Remind students that all food chains start with energy from the Sun. In most food chains, this energy is converted to glucose by photosynthesizing green plants.
The instructions provided in the assignment use the first four food chains listed below, and can be edited as needed.
Example Food Chains
Sun → Grass → Caterpillar → Sparrow → Hawk
Sun → Tree → Squirrel → Fox
Sun → Grass → Cow → Human
Sun → Red Oat Grass → Termites → Mongoose → Caracal
Sun → Grass → Vole → Owl
Sun → phytoplankton → Krill → Leopard Seal → Orca (Killer Whale)
Sun → Typha (cattail) → Mouse → Opossum → Red Fox → Puma
Sun → phytoplankton → zooplankton → Jellyfish → Shark
Extend this activity by providing students with a habitat and having them research food chains in these habitats! This is a great way for students to see how animals have adapted to the habitat in which they live. After completing this activity, students can have the opportunity to evaluate their models. Lead students through the strengths and limitations of the models giving them an opportunity to make suggestions for improvements.
Lesson Plan Reference
Grade Level 6-8
Difficulty Level 2 (Reinforcing / Developing)
Type of Assignment Individual or Group
Common Core Standards
[SCI-5-PS3-1] Use models to describe that energy in animals’ food (used for body repair, growth, motion, and to maintain body warmth) was once energy from the sun.
[SCI-MS-LS2-2] Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple ecosystems.
[SCI-MS-LS2-3] Develop a model to describe the cycling of matter and flow of energy among living and nonliving parts of an ecosystem.