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Grade 3. In 5 lessons spanning 15 class sessions, Life in Ecosystems introduces students to the diversity of living organisms, a significant component of a healthy ecosystem. Building Blocks of Science® lessons are structured in 30-minute class sessions, making it easy to fit science into your day. This 1-use unit kit includes a Teacher’s Guide (item #514702A) and enough supplies and apparatus to teach the unit once to a class of up to 30 students.
Grade 3. In 5 lessons spanning 15 class sessions, students are introduced to the diversity of living organisms, a significant component of a healthy ecosystem. This unit engages students as they investigate group behavior, life cycles, variation among individuals, adaptations, environmental influences, and how the past influences the present. Beginning with a pre-unit assessment, students start to think about traits that allow organisms to better survive in their ecosystem.
Throughout the unit, students continue to observe and investigate the survival of several different species as well as how individual variations within that species allow certain members to survive better than others. Students also develop the understanding that the environment plays a part in the development of traits and can affect an individual’s chances of survival. The unit culminates with an engineering activity in which each student applies all the major concepts discussed throughout this unit to design a new animal species, and then presents their project to the class.
Building Blocks of Science® lessons are structured in 30-minute class sessions, making it easy to fit science into your day. The Life in Ecosystems 1-Use Unit Kit includes a Teacher’s Guide (item #514702A), digital access to the teacher’s guide and student readers, and enough supplies and apparatus to teach the unit once to a class of up to 30 students. Kit also includes a coupon for prepaid delivery of the living organisms.
Next Generation Science Standards®
The Building Blocks of Science® unit Life in Ecosystems integrates process skills as defined by the Next Generation Science Standards®.
Disciplinary Core Ideas
Science and Engineering Practices
Lesson 1: Observing Life in an Ecosystem
Earth has a variety of ecosystems that are home to diverse plants and animals, each of which is well adapted to its environment. This unit begins with a pre-assessment to discover students’ overall knowledge of Earth’s ecosystems and some common adaptations associated with organisms in these environments. To begin their explorations, students are introduced to butterfly larva and begin growing Wisconsin Fast Plants®, which they will observe daily throughout the unit to observe life cycles and adaptations first hand. Students then investigate the benefits of living in a group versus leading a solitary lifestyle.
Lesson 2: Inheritance and Variation of Traits
This lesson moves from learning about life cycles to learning about the traits that are inherited by offspring from their parents. Students observe that humans have many traits in common, but that they also have many differences that make each person unique. Students explore the differences between an inherited trait and an acquired trait and start to observe how the environment plays a role in the development of an individual. Students then investigate and analyze variations that can occur between members of a species and begin to understand that these differences play a role in the chances of survival.
Lesson 3: Adaptations
Students investigate physical and behavioral adaptations, which both help organisms to better survive in their environments. Students focus on beak adaptations in four birds, which help determine what types of foods those organisms can eat. Students use a variety of tools to simulate beak structures and begin to understand that animals are specially adapted to the food sources available within their habitats. Students also simulate predator–prey relationships and the adaptations that both groups have, such as camouflage, to help them survive.
Lesson 4: Environmental Influences
Students investigate how the environment plays a role in development and survival of organisms. Investigation helps students draw the conclusion that both inherited information and the environment help shape an organism’s traits. This leads to the idea that some organisms are better adapted than others in an environment, and those better adapted individuals have an increased chance of survival. Students also have the opportunity to make predictions and inferences about plant and animal responses to major environmental changes, such as temperature change.
Lesson 5: Learning from Fossils
In this final lesson, students observe how organisms change over time. They conclude that not all organisms are alive today and that some were alive millions of years ago. Students analyze fossil structures and infer which present-day species could have descended from them. Students also analyze and interpret a fossil distribution map to conclude that the environment changes over time and that living things must adapt or go extinct when these changes occur. In a culminating activity, students apply the major concepts from all five lessons to design a new animal species. Each student presents the facts about their animal to the class in a presentation using a poster, by creating a book, or using another visual media of their choice.
|Life in Ecosystems Live Coupon (2 culture containers, each with 5 painted lady butterfly larvae)||1||Included|
|Digital Technology Pack (includes digital access to teacher’s guide and digital student access to student reader)||1||Included|
|Life in Ecosystems Student Reader||1||Included|
|Wisconsin Fast Plants® Confetti Mix Seed||100||Included|
|Cotton Wick, 4 x 3/8”||10||Included|
|Soil, 1 L||2||Included|
|Foam Tray, 7-1/2 x 9-1/2”||8||Included|
|Container, Plastic, 16 oz||25||Included|
|Pipet, Graduated, 3 mL||24||Included|
|Cup, Measuring, 1/4 Cup||9||Included|
|Fertilizer, Osmocote 14, 1-1/2 oz||1||Included|
|Coloring, Food, Liquid, Red, 1 oz||1||Included|
|Tank, Plastic, 1 gal||8||Included|
|Cylinder, Graduated, Plastic, 10 mL||8||Included|
|Net, Aquarium Dip, 3”||8||Included|
|Forceps, Plastic, 5”||8||Included|
|Cup, 1 oz, with Lid||48||Included|
|Seed, Sunflower, 16 oz||1||Included|
|Macaroni, Elbow, 24 oz||1||Included|
|Cube, Unifix®, Blue||100||Included|
|Cube, Unifix®, Yellow||100||Included|
|Cube, Unifix®, Green||100||Included|
|Cube, Unifix®, Red||150||Included|
|Photo Card Set, Animal Groups||1||Included|
|Photo Card Set, Variations||1||Included|
|Coral Reef Sheets||30||Included|