Food Chain Game
Students will be able to understand the concepts of food chains and food webs and how energy flows through these chains.
This game of food chain tag can be used to show how organisms in a food chain obtain energy. Students should wear different color arm bands based on the organism they represent. Students must chase organisms below them in the food chain, while avoiding being caught by organisms above them. Dried beans are to be exchanged when one student (organism) is tagged (eaten) by another student (organism) higher up on the food chain. The student with the most beans at the end of the game wins.
The materials necessary for this activity include: dried beans, colored arm bands, timer, bell to ring, large open area
Armband colors represent the different levels of the food chain. They are to be passed out according to the following ratios: Phytoplankton (12), Copepods (8), Mummichogs (4), Striped Bass (2), and Decomposers (2). The teacher will represent the sun and pass out the energy (dried beans) to each organism. The decomposers can chase any organism. If the decomposer tags an organism they get all of that organism's dried beans.
Before beginning the game discuss the role of the sun with the students. Then review the food chain of the Long Island Sound. The plants in the Sound are the phytoplankton. Copepods eat the phytoplankton. Mummichogs eat the copepods. And striped bass eat these little fish. Ask students which level of the food chain each of these organisms represent. Also, have them make a prediction as to which level of the food chain they think will have the most beans at the end of the game.
1. Phytoplankton are the only organisms that can receive dried beans from the sun and they may do this as often as they like. Copepods can only tag phytoplankton, mummichogs can only tag copepods and striped bass can only tag mummichogs.
2. There is no tackling or pulling of organisms, only tagging.
3. Players are safe while a bean exchange is taking place, and players cannot be tagged.
After about 10 minutes of play each group should count their total number of beans
At the end of the game most of the beans should have made their way to the striped bass and the decomposers. If time allows try the game again but this time have equal numbers of individuals in each food chain group. "Safe spots" can also be created for copepods and mummichogs to hide from their predators, but they cannot stay there the entire game or they will "starve."
Invasive Species of the Long Island Sound Scrapbook
Students can have the option to choose their own invasive species or the teacher can put the names of invasive species (both plants and animals) in Long Island Sound in a jar and have students draw their species at random. Students should then create a scrapbook page about their species including a picture and the following information:
· What is the scientific name (genus and species)?
· In what kingdom is it found?
· Approximately when was it introduced to Long Island Sound?
· How was it introduced to the Long Island Sound?
· For which native Long Island Sound specie(s) is your invasive species a problem?
· Are there currently efforts to deal with or eradicate your invasive species? If so what actions are being taken?
Students can utilize the Internet to find answers to the above questions. Once each student's scrapbook page is completed a class book can be assembled so students can share what they learned with others.
Nab the Aquatic Invader
This interactive website (http://www.iiseagrant.org/NabInvader/index.html) allows students to become detectives and make major arrests in the fight against invading aquatic plants and animals. These invaders have hitchhiked their way to places like the Long Island Sound and are no causing destruction and wreaking havoc on the biodiversity of the Sound. Students can help "book these bad guys" by first meeting the suspects and then collecting clues, gathering evidence, and other background to catch the right invader. When students think they have gathered enough information they can make an arrest.
This activity can be used as a differentiation technique for students or a whole class activity that can be done in a computer lab setting.
Long Island Sound Unit Vocabulary Ring
I have found a great teaching strategy that empowers my students to use scientific language and put concepts into their own terms by creating vocabulary card rings. Each vocabulary word gets its own note card, which can then be punched and strung on a ring. This is a great reference tool for students to have when they ask a question that relates to a word they should be able to recognize and understand. The student is able to find and eventually recall word and it's meaning rather than having the teacher tell them the answer. This is also a great exercise for students to do if they finish an assignment early.
One of my favorite models for creating vocabulary cards is the Frayer model in which the card is broken up into four squares (See Figure 3).
In the middle, the vocabulary word is written and circled. In the top left square, the student writes the definition in his or her own words. In the top right square, facts or characteristics of the word are written. In the bottom left, the student writes examples and in the bottom right, the student writes non-examples. I also ask my students to draw a picture to help them remember the word on the back. This also provides a way for them to quiz themselves using the picture they drew.
Carnivore – meat-eaters
Consumer – organisms unable to produce their own food and must eat other organisms
Community – many populations of organisms sharing the same habitat and interacting within that habitat
Decomposer –organisms that feed on dead matter and break it down into nutrients
Ecosystem –community of organisms and their physical environment
Estuary – a body of water where fresh water and salt water meet and mix
Food Chain – sequence of organisms feeding successively upon the next
Food Web – all interconnected food chains
Herbivore – plant-eaters
Habitat – a place where and organism live
Invasive Species – a non-native species that once introduced dominates its new habitat to the detriment of other species
Omnivore – eater of both plants and animals
Photosynthesis – use the Sun's energy to turn water, carbon dioxide, and chemical nutrients such as nitrates and phosphates, into living tissue and oxygen
Phytoplankton – microscopic plants that drift near the surface of water and use the Sun's energy to undergo photosynthesis
Predator – eats other organisms
Prey - eaten by other organisms
Producer – organisms capable of making their own food
Species – individual organism types
Zooplankton – both microscopic and larger animals that drift or swim weakly in the water column
Science Lessons at a Long Island Sound Field Site
When choosing a topic for this unit, I purposefully selected a theme that directly connected to my students' lives. Long Island Sound is something that students in New Haven can relate to because it is right in their backyard. In fact, Long Island Sound is THE natural resource of Connecticut that affects economy, public health, the identity of city, and quality of life. While learning about the Sound in a classroom setting can be engaging middle school students need to be encouraged to think, reason, question, and experiment.