Students toss coins to determine what traits a set of mouse parents possess, such as fur color, body size, heat tolerance, and running speed. Then they use coin tossing to determine the traits a mouse pup born to these parents possesses. Then they compare these physical features to features that would be most adaptive in several different environmental conditions. Finally, students consider what would happen to the mouse offspring if those environmental conditions were to change: which mice would be most likely to survive and produce the next generation?
Students explore the biosphere's environments and ecosystems, learning along the way about the plants, animals, resources and natural cycles of our planet. Over the course of lessons 2-6, students use their growing understanding of various environments and the engineering design process to design and create their own model biodome ecosystems - exploring energy and nutrient flows, basic needs of plants and animals, and decomposers. Students learn about food chains and food webs. They are introduced to the roles of the water, carbon and nitrogen cycles. They test the effects of photosynthesis and transpiration. Students are introduced to animal classifications and interactions, including carnivore, herbivore, omnivore, predator and prey. They learn about biomimicry and how engineers often imitate nature in the design of new products. As everyday applications are interwoven into the lessons, students consider why a solid understanding of one's environment and the interdependence within ecosystems can inform the choices we make and the way we engineer our communities.
In this multi-day activity, students explore environments, ecosystems, energy flow and organism interactions by creating a scale model biodome, following the steps of the engineering design process. The Procedure section provides activity instructions for Biodomes unit, lessons 2-6, as students work through Parts 1-6 to develop their model biodome. Subjects include energy flow and food chains, basic needs of plants and animals, and the importance of decomposers. Students consider why a solid understanding of one's environment and the interdependence of an ecosystem can inform the choices we make and the way we engineer our own communities. This activity can be conducted as either a very structured or open-ended design.
With a continued focus on the Sonoran Desert, students are introduced to the concepts of biomes, limiting factors (resources), carrying capacity and growth curves through a PowerPoint® presentation. Abiotic factors (temperature, annual precipitation, seasons, etc.) determine the biome landscape. The vegetative component, as producers, determines the types of consumers that form its various communities. Students learn how the type and quantity of available resources defines how many organisms can be supported within the community, as well as its particular resident species. Students use mathematical models of natural relationships (in this case, sigmoid and exponential growth curves) to analyze population information and build upon it. With this understanding, students are able to explain how carrying capacity is determined by the limiting factors within the community and feeding relationships. By studying these ecological relationships, students see the connection between ecological relationships of organisms and the fundamentals of engineering design, adding to their base of knowledge towards solving the grand challenge posed in this unit.
This video segment from NOVA: A Desert Place describes the physical characteristics and organisms that define the desert biome.
Students explore the biosphere and its associated environments and ecosystems in the context of creating a model ecosystem, learning along the way about the animals and resources. Students investigate different types of ecosystems, learn new vocabulary, and consider why a solid understanding of one's environment and the interdependence of an ecosystem can inform the choices we make and the way we engineer our communities. This lesson is part of a series of six lessons in which students use their growing understanding of various environments and the engineering design process, to design and create their own model biodome ecosystems.
Google Expeditions is an excellent app for giving students a virtual reality experience, allowing students to visit and experience new places and locations. This activity takes students on a virtual field trip through six different ecosystems. This resource was developed as a part of the Creating Lessons Using Transformative Technology - Platteville Public Schools OER Grant.
As students learn about the creation of biodomes, they are introduced to the steps of the engineering design process, including guidelines for brainstorming. Students learn how engineers are involved in the design and construction of biodomes and use brainstorming to come up with ideas for possible biodome designs. This lesson is part of a series of six lessons in which students use their growing understanding of various environments and the engineering design process, to design and create their own model biodome ecosystems.
Students learn about population density within environments and ecosystems. They determine the density of a population and think about why population density and distribution information is useful to engineers for city planning and design as well as for resource allocation.