As a starter question to activate prior knowledge, have students place their hand in a plastic grocery bag. The students should pull the bag so that it is fitting tightly on their hand.
After 3 to 5 minutes, have the students unwrap their hand. What has happened? After taking some student answers, the teacher should ask WHY the hand was sweating. Use questioning to lead students to the conclusion that the loss of heat from the body led the hand to "sweat" when placed in the bag. The teacher should ask, "Where does this "heat" come from?"
Explain that energy flow in an ecosystem isn't as efficient as we might think.
Show the students a video (i.e. Energy Flow in Ecosystems by Bozeman Science) or formal presentation on energy flow in an ecosystem and the ten percent law. Have the students take jot notes. Pause the video to discuss key points.
After the video, use the ELMO/projector combo or an application like Doceri for iPad to give students explicit instruction on how to determine the energy available to each trophic level in an energy pyramid. Show them how to move their decimal point. Also, show them how they can multiply to get the same answer. After working one or two in groups, give students a couple of problems to work on their own. (30 minutes)
Explain to the students that they will be using drag and drop computer coding to create an ecological pyramid that explains the flow of energy in an ecosystem (producer to primary consumer to secondary consumer, etc.) and demonstrates the amount of energy available to each trophic level by describing the 10 percent law on their ecological pyramid.
Go over the Ecological Pyramid Rubric with the class. Ask for questions. Then, have the students complete the introductory activity on Tynker. It will use "outer space" to show students the basics of drag and drop coding using the Tynker program. Check for understanding by visually monitoring students and asking each student a question about the introduction. Then, have each student create their interactive ecological pyramid using drag and drop coding.
Have each student let another student work their interactive ecological pyramid to "test" it. (You may want to take this opportunity to discuss the career option of software testing.) Discuss how the student can improve their pyramid to make it better and easier to complete. Then, have the student make any necessary changes to their pyramid and submit it for approval.
Upon completion of the pyramids, ask the students to explain how the ten percent law governs how energy flows from one trophic level to another in an ecosystem.