Pre-Lesson: Where it all begins: Forest Ecology

Pre – Lesson: Where it all begins: Forest Ecology                  Grade level:  7-10                 Time: One 45m class
**This lesson is designed to be done prior to students viewing the film Seeking the Greatest Good
Cross Curricular/Cross Lessons: Can be used with Lesson 1A The Gilded Age; Lesson 1B Ecological Consequences
PDE Academic Standards: 1.6.8/11A,C,D; 4.1.7.A; 4.1.10.A

Objectives:
Students will understand the relationship between biotic and abiotic components of an ecosystem by examining concrete examples of both and sorting them into categories
–Students will understand the main factors driving forest ecosystems in the northeastern U.S. by researching the effects of their materials on the environment

Materials:
Seeking the Greatest Good
Forest ecology PowerPoint presentation (gives an overview to forest ecology)

Anticipatory Set:  (2min)      “Moment of Zen”       Discuss the quote as it relates to both students and the topic.
Lasting peace can be based only on a genuine understanding of the relationship between people and planet.”
-Jonathon Porritt, Seeing Green
Procedure:
This activity will give students an introduction to Forest Ecology in preparation for watching Seeking the Greatest Good.  Ask each student to bring one item that they find in nature to class.  For example, a rock, a bottle of water from a local stream, a leaf, a feather, etc.  As you use the PowerPoint presentation to discuss forest ecology with the students, use the materials they brought as examples of abiotic and biotic components of an ecosystem.  Discuss how the various items are related: for example, the rock will eventually degrade into soil that provides minerals for plants.  Plants (leaf) provide food, oxygen, and habitat for birds (feather).  Birds eat pests that harm plants, and so on.

Have the students sort their items into abiotic or biotic categories. Assign students the task of creating presentations, posters or graphs/charts listing other examples that they did not have with them as well as the uses and characteristics of biotic and abiotic objects.

 

Follow-up activity/Reinforcement: Ask students to write short essays describing the significance of their item to an ecosystem.  How does it impact other parts of the ecosystem and how do those other impacts affect it?

For homework, have the students bring in additional objects from nature that fit these categories or have them pick one object and research what its role is in nature, bringing in examples of it and creating a poster or ppt. presentation.  Where did you find it?  What is its purpose?  (This may allow them greater awareness of their surroundings now that they know what they are looking at)

Closure/Summary:            (3min)
Answer the Key Questions:
What is an ecosystem?
What is the difference between a biotic and abiotic component of an ecosystem? How do they interact?
What factors influence an ecosystem?

** Film Connection: Whenever the students watch the film, have them list the biotic and abiotic elements they see or discussed in the film and how it relates to the forest ecosystem.  What will the effects be if it is removed or disturbed?

Evaluation:
Students will be evaluated on the quality of their project/presentation/essay


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