ALEX Lesson Plan

     

Obey The Law: Using Computer Coding to Create an Interactive Energy Pyramid

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Katrina McGrady
System: Talladega County
School: Talladega County Board Of Education
The event this resource created for:ASTA
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 34570

Title:

Obey The Law: Using Computer Coding to Create an Interactive Energy Pyramid

Overview/Annotation:

During this activity, the students will use drag and drop computer code to create an interactive ecological energy pyramid model that shows how the 10% law applies to the energy available at each trophic level.  As part of the hour of code, students can use this activity to participate in the Hour of Code week during their biology class.  

This lesson plan results from a collaboration between the Alabama State Department of Education and ASTA.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
Science
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 9-12
Biology
8 ) Develop and use models to describe the cycling of matter (e.g., carbon, nitrogen, water) and flow of energy (e.g., food chains, food webs, biomass pyramids, ten percent law) between abiotic and biotic factors in ecosystems.

Insight Unpacked Content
Scientific And Engineering Practices:
Developing and Using Models
Crosscutting Concepts: Systems and System Models; Energy and Matter
Disciplinary Core Idea: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
Students:
  • Categorize organisms in an ecosystem based on evidence of how they obtain energy.
  • Construct a food chain that differentiates between producers, primary, secondary and tertiary consumers and integrate multiple food chains into a food web.
  • Use relationships between organisms to develop a food web and use it to demonstrate flow of energy and predict the impacts of population changes. Construct a pyramid of biomass, given population data about organisms in the ecosystem and make calculations using data from the pyramid.
  • Use mathematical examples, such as the 10% law to explain why there is less energy available at each level of an energy pyramid.
  • Analyze data to identify patterns in the cycling of carbon, nitrogen and water in ecosystems.
  • Use patterns identified in the cycling of carbon, nitrogen, and water to build models of matter cycling through ecosystems.
  • Predict the effect of the reduction of a population of species on the carbon, nitrogen or water cycle.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • Autotroph
  • Heterotroph
  • Primary producer
  • Primary consumer
  • Secondary consumer
  • Tertiary consumer
  • Herbivore
  • Carnivore
  • Omnivore
  • Detritivore
  • Trophic levels: primary, secondary and tertiary
  • Food chain
  • Food web
  • Biomass
  • Energy pyramid
  • Biomass pyramid
  • Number pyramid
  • Matter
  • Nutrient
  • Biogeochemical cycle
  • Nitrogen fixation
  • Denitrification
  • Law of conservation of mass
Knowledge:
Students know:
  • A food chain is a simple model representing the transfer of energy from organism to organism (e.g., sun → plant → grasshopper → mouse → snake).
  • Each step of a food chain represents a trophic level always starting with an autotroph in the first level and heterotrophs in the remaining levels.
  • The overlapping relationships between multiple food chains are shown in a food web.
  • An ecological pyramid is a model that can show the relative amounts of energy, biomass, or numbers of organisms at each trophic level in an ecosystem.
  • In an energy pyramid, only 10% of energy is passed from one trophic level to the next due to loss of energy in the form of heat caused by cellular respiration (10% rule).
  • In a biomass pyramid, the total mass of living matter at each trophic level tends to decrease.
  • In a numbers pyramid, it shows the number of organisms at each trophic level tends to decrease because there is less energy available to support organisms.
  • The exchange of matter through the biosphere is called the biogeochemical cycle and involves living organisms (bio), geological processes (geo), and chemical processes (chemical).
Skills:
Students are able to:
  • Use a self-created food web diagram to predict the impact of removing one organism on other organisms within the food web.
  • Use data to create ecological pyramids to show flow of energy, biomass and number of organisms.
  • Model the cycling of matter (e.g., Carbon, water, nitrogen) through the biosphere.
  • Combine a food web diagram with a matter cycling diagram to provide a holistic view of the many aspects that make up an ecosystem.
Understanding:
Students understand that:
  • Everything in an ecosystem is connected to everything else (both abiotic and biotic), either directly or indirectly.
  • Nutrients, in the form of elements and compounds, flow through organisms in an ecosystem (e.g., grass captures substances from the air, soil and water and converts them into usable nutrients → cow eats the grass → human eats the cow → decomposers return the nutrients to the cycle at every level).
AMSTI Resources:
ASIM Module:
Traveling Carbon Passport; Traeling Nitrogen Passport; Traveling Phosphorus Passport; Food Chains, Food Webs and Energy; Owl Pellets; Tree Carbon Sequestration

NAEP Framework
NAEP Statement::
L12.5: The chemical elements that make up the molecules of living things pass through food webs and are combined and recombined in different ways. At each link in an ecosystem, some energy is stored in newly made structures, but much is dissipated into the environment as heat. Continual input of energy from sunlight keeps the process going.

NAEP Statement::
L12.6: As matter cycles and energy flows through different levels of organization of living systems (cells, organs, organisms, communities) and between living systems and the physical environment, chemical elements are recombined in different ways. Each recombination results in storage and dissipation of energy into the environment as heat. Matter and energy are conserved in each change.



Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.B.HS.8- Identify living and nonliving components in an ecosystem; identify the flow of energy within a common food chain.


Digital Literacy and Computer Science
DLIT (2018)
Grade: 9-12
5) Design and iteratively develop computational artifacts for practical intent, personal expression, or to address a societal issue by using current events.

Insight Unpacked Content
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
Students will:
  • use digital tools to create content as it relates to current events.
  • seek feedback to revise computational artifacts.
Knowledge:
Students know:
  • how to design and develop computational artifacts for practical intent.
  • how to design and develop computational artifacts for personal expression.
  • how to design and develop computational artifacts to address a societal issue by using current events.
Skills:
Students are able to:
  • design and develop computational artifacts using an iterative design process.
  • use current events to bring merit to computational artifacts.
Understanding:
Students understand that:
  • design should be an iterative process whereby the designer seeks feedback to improve upon his/her creation.
Digital Literacy and Computer Science
DLIT (2018)
Grade: 9-12
10) Resolve or debug errors encountered during testing using iterative design process.

Examples: Test for infinite loops, check for bad input, check edge-cases.

Insight Unpacked Content
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
Students will:
  • troubleshoot errors encountered during testing using an iterative design process.
  • resolve or debug errors encountered during testing using an iterative design process.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • debug
Knowledge:
Students know:
  • steps of the problem solving process.
  • how to identify errors in an iterative design process.
Skills:
Students are able to:
  • review a process and identify errors in procedure.
  • rectify errors found in a process.
  • test resolution to verify that the process now runs as intended.
Understanding:
Students understand that:
  • errors in a process can prevent a solution.
  • resolving an error will allow the process to function as intended.
Digital Literacy and Computer Science
DLIT (2018)
Grade: 9-12
25) Utilize a variety of digital tools to create digital artifacts across content areas.

Insight Unpacked Content
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
Students will:
  • use digital tools to create digital artifacts across content areas.
  • seek and use feedback to revise digital artifacts.
Knowledge:
Students know:
  • how to use a variety of digital tools.
  • how to use a digital tool to create a digital artifact.
  • the appropriate use of digital tools and artifacts for specific content areas.
Skills:
Students are able to:
  • use a variety of digital tools.
  • create digital artifacts using a variety of digital tools.
  • appropriately match digital artifacts and content areas for effective communication.
Understanding:
Students understand that:
  • digital tools are used to create digital artifacts that can be used for effective communication of competency across content areas.

Local/National Standards:

 

Primary Learning Objective(s):

The students will describe how the ten percent law governs how energy flows from one trophic level to another in an ecosystem.  

Additional Learning Objective(s):

Learning Targets: 

Content:  I can describe how the 10 percent law governs how energy flows from one trophic level to another in an ecosystem.

Behavior:  I can construct an interactive ecological pyramid using a drag and drop computer coding program.  

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

61 to 90 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Video or presentation that describes ecological energy pyramids and the ten percent law--BrainPop has an excellent video and Bozeman Science has a more advanced video here

Ecological Pyramid Rubric

Technology Resources Needed:

Each student or pair of students will need:

a computer with updated web browsing software

Each teacher will need:  

  • a computer with a projector,
  • Smart Board, or
  • other presentation materials.

Tynker Hour of Code Program--Choose the build an ecological pyramid option.  

Background/Preparation:

The teacher will need to review the coding activity before it is assigned to help troubleshoot any incompatibilities and become familiar with the Tynker program.

Prior to this lesson, the students will need to know the following.

1.  Definitions and examples of autotrophs/producers, primary consumers, secondary consumers, top predators/tertiary consumers.

2.  The direction of energy flow in an ecosystem using food chains and food webs.

During this lesson, students should follow these safety procedures.  

1.  Do not use any websites other than those approved by your instructor. 

2.  Do not get food, drink, or water near your computer or electrical devices.  

  Procedures/Activities: 

Before/Engage:  

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)

During/Explore/Explain:  

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.  

After/Elaborate:

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. 


  Assessment  

Assessment Strategies

Formative:  

Student answers during the video and 10 percent law calculation.

Student Peer Review during software testing.

Students can describe how the ten percent law governs how energy flows from one trophic level to another in an ecosystem. 

Summative:

Interactive Ecological Pyramid graded with rubric 

Acceleration:

Students who finish their pyramid correctly and early can take the opportunity to complete another Hour of Code activity.  

Intervention:

During the creation of the interactive energy pyramid, if students appear to be struggling with the content that goes in the pyramid, the teacher can pull the students in groups of 2 or 3 for small group instruction.  Use flash cards, matching games, drawing activities, and other methods to teach the material in small groups.  


View the Special Education resources for instructional guidance in providing modifications and adaptations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the Alabama Alternate Assessment.