Activity 6.1: Exploring Different Kinds of Decomposers

Target Student Performance

Students explain how matter and energy move and change in other phenomena involving decomposers, included aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, fermentation, spontaneous combustion of hay, and decomposition in forests.

Resources You Provide

Resources Provided

Recurring Resources


For this lesson, you can choose which of the four activities you would like your students to do. You may opt to concentrate on one or two of the activities, allow your students to choose, or organize a jigsaw activity in which different groups of students do different activities. For all the activities, you can decide if you want to do them as a whole class or for students to work on them individually or in small groups. For all the activities, prepare one copy of 6.1 Exploring Different Kinds of Decomposers Handout for each student.

For the Learning more about bacteria activity, prepare a copy of 6.1 Bacteria Reading for each student.

For the Reading about Dr. Death, prepare a copy of 6.1 Dr. Death Reading for each student.

For Learning about spontaneous combustion of hay, prepare a computer and projector to show the video.

For Modeling fermentation, prepare a copy of 6.1 Decomposers Without Oxygen Reading and Modeling Handout for each student and a model kit for each pair of students.


1. Explain to students which sub-activities they will be doing

Give each student a copy of 6.1 Exploring Different Kinds of Decomposers Handout . Explain which of the four options on the handout they will be doing (see discussion of possibilities under Setup above).


During the sub-activities, consider how students connect the new phenomena related to decomposers in this Activity with what they have learned more generally about decomposers throughout the earlier Lessons of the unit.

  • Form strategic groups to ensure strong students in each.
  • Allow students to highlight important information individually before joining with their groups.
  • Have students do more than one option by cycling the groups through each option station, sharing out ideas and answers at the end.
Extending the Learning