As a part of this project, students learn about the workings of food webs and the energy cycle by creating models using their own drawings of nature and/or images from wildlife magazines. Specifically, they investigate the links between the sun, plants and animals, building their understanding of the web of nutrient dependency and energy transfer.
- 1 piece of cardboard or construction paper
- 1 or 2 nature or wildlife magazines (such as National Geographic, Natural History, Ranger Rick, etc.)
- String/Yarn of varied colors
- Divide the class into teams of eight students each. (Groups may be larger or smaller, if desired, but they must have at least five students each.)
- Have each group of students stand in a circle.
- Distribute a ball of string or yarn to one member of each group circle. This person represents the sun and starts each food web.
- Have the first student hold tightly to the end of the string and toss the ball of string to another person in the group, across the circle.
- Have the second person name one thing in the ecosystem that uses energy from the sun. Next, have this person clasp the string with one hand and toss the ball of string to another student in the circle with their other hand.
- Have the third student name an organism that eats or is eaten by the previous organism named.
- Continue until all students in the circle are connected with the ball of string at least once.
- Have the student groups stop and investigate the web they have created. Are some webs more complex than others? Why? (Answer: Some species may have been named twice because they are consumers of multiple things; some ecosystems have more variety of food sources, etc.) Students have just modeled a food web.
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