Overview of Section Resources

Section 1: Planting the Terrariums
To introduce the concept of living and nonliving components of an ecosystem, students consider a terrarium. They examine and plant seeds and observe germination. They examine the nonliving components of the ecosystem that growing plants need for survival. They begin a log of terrarium plant growth, and learn that not all seeds germinate and survive. Students follow the life cycle of a bean plant from germination, observing root formation and measuring plant growth. Graphing plant growth and germination rate allows students to quantify their observations.
Section 2: Plants Are Producers
Students investigate photosynthesis. They determine that oxygen gas is produced by plant leaves in light but not in darkness. They come to understand that the Sun is the source of energy for plants and that plants are the primary source of matter and energy for all living things. Students learn that this energy is captured in sugars during photosynthesis and then stored in the form of starch. Students test various foods for starch and learn which plant parts are used for starch storage. Finally, students learn that oxygen and carbon dioxide cycle in the environment.
Section 3: Crickets Are Consumers
Students study crickets as an example of consumers. They examine the structure of crickets, consider their life cycle, and determine what they eat. Students recognize that consumers can be classified as herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores according to their diets.
Section 4: Adding Consumers to the Habitats
Students add crickets to the terrariums and consider how their needs are met in the habitat. By observing cricket behavior, students understand how organisms interact with each other and with their environment.
Section 5: Adding Predators to the Habitats
Students examine anole structures and add an anole to the habitat. A predator/prey relationship is shown by interactions between the anole and the crickets.
Section 6: Decomposers
Students learn that decomposers recycle organic matter in a habitat. They experiment with yeast as a representative decomposer, then examine and compare three types of molds.
Section 7: Food Chains and Food Webs
Students learn how matter and energy flow in a food chain. They recognize that producers, herbivores, carnivores, omnivores, and decomposers are part of food chains and food webs. They extend the basic food chain in their terrariums by suggesting additional herbivores and carnivores to develop possible food webs.