Students investigate decomposers and the role of decomposers in maintaining the flow of nutrients in an environment. Students also learn how engineers use decomposers to help clean up wastes in a process known as bioremediation. This lesson concludes 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 explore the concept of biodegradability by building and observing model landfills to test the decomposition of samples of everyday garbage items. They collect and record experiment observations over five days, seeing for themselves what happens to trash when it is thrown "away" in a landfill environment. This shows them the difference between biodegradable and non-biodegradable and serves to introduce them to the idea of composting. Students also learn about the role of engineering in solid waste management.
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.
Students learn about energy flow in food webs, including the roles of the sun, producers, consumers and decomposers in the energy cycle. They model a food web and create diagrams of food webs using their own drawings and/or images from nature or wildlife magazines. Students investigate the links between the sun, plants and animals, building their understanding of the web of nutrient dependency and energy transfer.
Students gain an understanding of the parts of a plant, plant types and how they produce their own food from sunlight through photosynthesis. They also learn about transpiration, the process by which plants release moisture to the atmosphere. With this understanding, students test the effects of photosynthesis and transpiration by growing a plant from seed. They learn how plants play an important part in maintaining a balanced environment in which the living organisms of the Earth survive. This lesson is part of a series of six lessons in which students use their evolving understanding of various environments and the engineering design process, to design and create their own model biodome ecosystems.