Activity 2.2: The Meadow Simulation (50 min)

Target Student Performance

Students identify patterns in relationships among organic mass of populations at different trophic levels in a simulated meadow ecosystem (the organic matter pyramid).

Materials You Provide

  • Computer with internet access for students (1 per pair of students)

Resources Provided


Set up a computer for each pair of students to work at as well as a projector to display the 2.2 Meadow Simulation PPT. Also print a copy of the 2.2 Meadow Simulation Worksheet for each student.


1. Use the instructional model to show students where they are in the course of the unit.

Show slide 2 of the 2.2 Meadow Simulation PPT.


Use 2.2 Meadow Simulation Worksheet to get a sense of students’ initial ideas and explanations about patterns in organic matter in ecosystems. At this point, students should not be penalized for incorrect ideas, and they should not be given the “correct” answers. During this activity, pay particular attention to the explanations that students have for why it takes so much plant mass to support so few foxes. This will be important in the next lesson.

  • Allow students to use personal devices to engage with the online Meadow Simulation independently
  • Have students work independently through the online Meadow Simulation before getting together and discussing with a partner
Extending the Learning

Ask students how the simulation would change with different ecosystems. Would the general pattern still apply, or would it change drastically?