Ecosystems Lesson 3 Overview


In Lesson 2, students identified a pattern of the organic matter pyramid in a meadow ecosystem. In Lesson 3, they explain why that pattern exists by tracing matter and energy and connecting scales: (a) matter cycling and energy flow among carbon pools at the ecosystem scale, (b) growth, life functions, and death of organisms at the macroscopic scale, and (c) carbon-transforming processes (photosynthesis, biosynthesis, digestion, cellular respiration) at the atomic-molecular scale.

Guiding Question

How do carbon atoms and energy move through an ecosystem?

Activities in this Lesson

  • Activity 3.1: Large-Scale Four Questions (20 min)
  • Activity 3.2: Carbon Dice Game (30 min)
  • Activity 3.3: Tracing Carbon Through Ecosystems (30 min)
  • (Optional) Activity 3.4: What Happens to Soil Carbon? (30 min)
  • Activity 3.5: Tracing Energy Through an Ecosystem (30 min)
  • Activity 3.6: Explaining Patterns in Ecosystems (30 min)

Unit Map

Ecosystems Unit Map