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Which One Matters?

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Which One Matters? (Extension Activity)

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Links on this page: Which One Matters? - Student Directions and Recording Sheet | Which One Matters? - Teacher Answer Key

National Education Standards Met:

You are in an Extension Activity


Goals: Students understand the balance necessary to maintain ecosystems and how changing that balance can impact the ecosystem.

Objectives: Students will
:

  • Identify and discuss the need for balance in any ecosystem.
  • Identify and discuss how greenhouse gases impact ecosystems.


Materials:

  • Jenga® games (1 per group of 4 students)
  • Label strips for each group
  • Tape for each group
  • Student record sheet
  • Teacher questions
     

Time: 45 minutes

Standards Met: S1, S4, S7, M3, M11

Procedure:

  • Dice instructions
  • Divide the students into groups of 4.
  • Distribute the Jenga® game and student sheet for each group.
  • Students label the Jenga® blocks according to their directions found on the student record sheet.
  • Students play Jenga®.
  • As they pull pieces, students should record each on the record sheet. (see student sheet table)
  • Continue until the students' tower tumbles.
     

Debrief:

  • How many pieces were pulled before the tower tumbled?
  • Which piece mattered?
  • What happened before that piece was pulled?
  • Keep on with this type of probing until students identify that the entire tower mattered in the balance of the ecosystem.
  • Ask student volunteers to share their summary from their record sheet for further discussion.
     

Which One Matters? - Student Directions and Recording Sheet

Name of each group member - _____________________________________________


Goal: Understand the relationship between the environment and an ecosystem.

Introduction:  The Jenga® tower represents the pyramid of any ecosystem anywhere.  The lower levels represent the producers-photosynthesizing plants that get their energy from the sun. The next several layers above the plants represent herbivores-animals that primarily feed on plant matter. The layers above the herbivores represent carnivores-animals that feed on herbivores.  The highest few layers represent the top carnivores-animals that reside at the top of the pyramid.

Procedure:

  • Decide on an ecosystem that your tower will represent. Examples:  Forest, Marine, Lake, Desert, Mountain, Prairie.
  • Make labels of plants and animals for some of the bricks in each layer. Make sure you mark where each of the 4 layers begin.
  • Stack your Jenga® tower and begin play.
  • Record each piece as it is pulled by numbering it and placing the # in the row of the layer it was taken from (see example).
  • Complete the questions.
     

Producers

7

8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Herbivores

1

4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carnivores

3

6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top Carn

5

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Questions:

  1. When is the balance of the ecosystem at its best?

     
  2. How important are the producers to the balance?  Why?

     
  3. How does the increase of Greenhouse gas affect the producers?

     
  4. Using the information from your table representing how your ecosystem was pulled apart, write a paragraph on the back of this sheet that describes the balance and the impact of increased greenhouse gases on that ecosystem.  Be prepared to share it.
     

Which One Matters? - Teacher Answer Key


Questions:

  1. When is the balance of the ecosystem at its best?

    Answers will vary, but the following is one example. The ecosystem is most balanced when there is a sufficient amount of producers, herbivores, carnivores and top carnivores to support life at all levels.
     
  2. How important are the producers to the balance?  Why?

    Answers will vary, but the following is one example. The producers are the base of the ecosystem. If they falter, the entire ecosystem will falter.
     
  3. How does the increase of Greenhouse gas affect the producers?

    Answers will vary, but the following is one example. The increase of greenhouse gases could potentially have a negative impact on the producers depending on the producers sensitivity to temperature, light dependency, access to water, etc.
     
  4. Using the information from your table representing how your ecosystem was pulled apart, write a paragraph on the back of this sheet that describes the balance and the impact of increased greenhouse gases on that ecosystem.  Be prepared to share it.

    Answers will vary depending on their tower strategy.

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