Part of Unit: Cell Biology
Lesson Plan Overview / Details
This lesson helps students understand that nearly all the energy in a living system comes from the sun. Students then trace how that energy flows through an ecosystem from autotrophs to heterotrophs.
- Lesson Time
- 1 Hour
California Career and Technical Education Standards
- ANR.FS.11.0 Demonstration and Application
California Academic Content Standards (Reinforced)
Objectives and Goals
- Students will understand that nearly all the energy in a living system comes from the sun.
- Students will be able to distinguish the difference between autotrophs and heterotrophs.
- Students will be able to give examples of organisms that are classified as either autotrophic or heterotrophic.
- Students will create a diagram of how energy flows through an ecosystem.
Teacher Prep Tips:
- Caution: Be sure to find out if there are any vegetarians or vegans in the class before doing this activity! (Carrots or celery sticks may be used for those students who refrain from eating meat products.)
- Make sure to purchase beef jerky (small piece for each student), carrots and/or celery (as needed).
- Have copy of notes worksheet for each student.
Activities in this Lesson
- Time for a Snack! - Hooks / Set
As students walk in the door, I greet them and hand them each a piece of beef jerky. (Make sure to announce that they may not eat the jerky until they receive instructions as it will be used for an activity.) Once students are seated, I ask them to take a bite of their beef jerky. As they are chewing, I ask them to think about how that piece of beef jerky came to be. (Where did it come from?) Students will usually say that is was processed from meat that came from beef cattle. I agree and then ask them to think about why beef jerky is a good choice for a nutritional snack. Have students think about their answer, turn to a person sitting nearby and share their answers. Select a few individuals to share their thoughts with the class. Common answers include high in energy & protein, low in carbs, sugar & fat content. Once we have talked about the nutritional value, I prompt students to think about HOW those nutrients and energy got into the jerky in the first place. (Lead them as necessary to the conclusion that the jerky is meat from cattle that ate grass, hay or grain.) Have the students take it a step further . . . how did the grass, hay, or grain get its nutrients and energy? (Students should make the connection that those things are all photosynthetic and harness the energy from the sun.)
Assessment -- Energy Flow Diagram
Students use the information that they just learned to create their own version of an Energy Flow Diagram.
I usually put an array of art supplies (construction paper, markers, colored pencils, old magazines, scissors, glue sticks, etc.) out on a table with easy access for all students to use when creating their diagrams.
- Directions for Energy Flow Diagram [ Download ] This is a PowerPoint slide that outlines the assignment, explains the requirements as well as the point breakdown for grading.
Students should develop a list of 10 organisms, classify each one as either an autotroph or heterotroph and then be prepared to share next class.