Objective: Students will learn about the flow of energy in food chains.
strips of paper in assorted colors, (larger for yellow, smaller for light green, progressively smaller for other colors)
Procedure: Discuss that energy is the ability to do work. That work can be mechanical, like a washing machine that gets clothes clean; electrical, like the power needed to light a bulb or get the washing machine to turn on; or
chemical like the energy we need personally for our bodies to fill the washing machine, and move the stuff to the dryer. Almost all of the energy on Earth comes from the sun. Ask if students have ever heard of the food chain and have them describe and define it. Explain that in reality,
there aren't chains so much as webs, complicated
arrangements where there are many different food sources for a particular animal. For example, humans don't just get their food from plants or animals, but both, and many different kinds. For simplicity, though, we're making basic chains today.
Have students begin with a yellow strip, drawing a picture of the sun on it and labeling it "sun." They then tape the paper into a loop, or chain link.
Ask the children what living organisms get their energy directly from the sun by converting it into food. Plants, which are called the producers. Have the children take three strips of smaller green paper. On one, the write "phytoplankton," and explain that it is a plant life that grows in oceans, near the top so it can photosynthesize, and is usually so small individually that it can't be seen.
Have them draw small green dots, and then tape the loop onto the sun loop. Repeat on two more green pieces of paper for a shrub for desert and grass for everglades. Repeat on blue paper for zooplankton, jellyfish, insect, and snail, which
are primary consumers; white paper for fish, bird, and duck, which are secondary consumers; and red paper for dolphin, fox, and alligator, which are tertiary consumers.
Ask the students why the links keep getting smaller? Less energy going to each level.
ESOL strategies: A8, modeling; B2, explain key concepts; D5, realia/manipulatives.
SSS Benchmark: SC.B.1.2.1 The student knows how to trace the flow of energy in a system (e.g., as in an ecosystem). (Also may address energy from fossil fuels, potential energy and hear transfer.) SC.G.1.2.3 The student knows that green
plants use carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight energy to turn minerals and nutrients into food for growth, maintenance, and reproduction."