Ecosystem Design with Alexis Toliver


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Learning Objectives

Ecosystem Design with Alexis Toliver:

d. Use printed and digital data to develop a model illustrating and describing changes to the flow of energy in an ecosystem when plants or animals become scarce, extinct or overabundant.

b. Develop simple models to illustrate the flow of energy through a food web/food chain beginning with sunlight and including producers, consumers, and decomposers.

c. Design a scenario to demonstrate the effect of a change on an ecosystem.

a. Develop a model to describe the roles of producers, consumers, and decomposers in a community. (Clarification statement: Students are not expected to identify the different types of consumers – herbivores, carnivores, omnivores and scavengers.)

S4L1. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about the roles of organisms and the flow of energy within an ecosystem.

Guiding ideas for Ecosystem Design

Lesson created by: Tiffany Wilson Day One: Prior to building task  Time: 1 Class Period This is a real-world problem…Scientists go into an unknown biome and gather evidence on how this unknown biome functions. Scientists will populate the biome by spawning animals and plants that will function within the ecosystem. This does not have to be an Earth-like biome, although the relationship between organisms must be well understood and defined. Assignment “Teaser” Video Questions: What makes an ecosystem? How many different food chains can you imagine? Procedure: • Class will also view Deep Ocean trenches on the Earth video (several on YouTube, teacher can select based on age and maturity level of students). • *This challenges the typical idea of ecosystems beginning with the sun and allows students to extend their knowledge of ecosystems and the food chains within them. • Teacher will facilitate a simple discussion on predator/prey relationships and energy transfers within food chains. • Review teacher-made Rubric for actual assessment for the submission (Book & Quill). • Students will be assigned to work in groups/partners to complete a planning guide where they are brainstorming their “own biome” (teacher-made document). • Discuss shared responsibilities and checklist requirements for task.

Student activities in Ecosystem Design

Day Two: *Teacher will review planning guides and provide feedback to partner teams on feedback slip attached to planning sheet prior to this class period. Time: 1 Class Period- Teacher will review the assignment as well as the following skills in Mincraft:

  • Spawning life…
  • Growing plants…
  • Use of the Camera (selfies and typical point of view)
  • Use of the book & quill
  • Assignment Submission in Canvas
    • Students will review the teacher feedback and begin exploring the selected biome. The oldest partner will be the “World Owner” for the other partner to join.
    • Students will practice the skills reviewed and make changes on planning guide (if needed).

Day Three Time: 1-2 Class Periods • Students will work in their partner teams to build their own ecosystem. Partner teams must:

  • Include at least 2 food chains with a minimum of 4 energy transfers (checklist on planning guide)
  • Populate their Biome with selected animals and plants
  • Explore multiple relationships between predator/prey/energy sources
  • Take pictures of the items
  • Assemble a book & quill as a science journal
  • Define their food chain- type their text as if they are Reporting as a scientist on how the energy transfer is being distributed in their Biome


  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Critical thinking


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