Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Connect the Species

Daric White


This is a lesson designed to test student knowledge of energy transfer and species interrelationships.


The student understands how knowledge of energy is fundamental to all the scientific disciplines (e.g., the energy required for biological processes in living organisms and the energy required for the building, erosion, and rebuilding of the Ear

The student understands that there is conservation of mass and energy when matter is transformed.

The student knows of the great diversity and interdependence of living things.

The student understands how the flow of energy through an ecosystem made up of producers, consumers, and decomposers carries out the processes of life and that some energy dissipates as heat and is not recycled.

The student knows that changes in a component of an ecosystem will have unpredictable effects on the entire system but that the components of the system tend to react in a way that will restore the ecosystem to its original condition.

The student knows that the world ecosystems are shaped by physical factors that limit their productivity.


-Preserved aquatic biological specimens
-Slides of phytoplankton (algae) and Zooplankton
-Compound microscopes
-Identification cards of each preserved species
-Pen or pencil


1. Make sure that students have an understanding of energy transfer and food webs.
2. Obtain preserved specimens and microscope slides. (Specimens and slides should be able to connect in terms of a food web).
3. Make sure that school library has sufficient research materials.
4. Obtain compound microscopes.
5. Have computers with Internet access.


Background: Students should have prior knowledge of energy pyramids and food webs.

1. Students work in pairs.

2. Students view slides with microscope and identify them as phytoplankton (producers) and zooplankton (consumers).

3. Students observe preserved specimens and write down scientific names for each.

4. Students research specimens to determine the diet of each.

5. Students must decide how specimens are related to each other in terms of a food web.

6. Students must put each species in its position of the energy pyramid (producer, primary consumer, secondary consumer, or tertiary consumer).

7. Assess the activity. (See Assessment.)


Students' written work should demonstrate understanding of energy transfer and the importance of all species.
The paper should include the following criteria:

-An Introduction (importance of biotic and abiotic factors in ecosystems). -10 points
-A Drawing of food web showing directions of energy transfer among species (including position of abiotic factors). -25 points
-A Drawing of energy pyramid with the names of each species in their correct place. -25points
-A discussion of energy transfer within this particular ecosystem. -30 points
-References. -10 points


This lesson can be used with many ecosystem types.
This lesson can be used with species lists only; however, students show more interest when they can see the actual animals involved.
This lesson can be part of ecosystem unit.
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