Biology

Understanding adaptations of different organisms
and their roles in an ecosystem

Grade Level: 7th grade

State Standards:

  1. Scientific explanations are always subject to change in the face of new evidence. (MA Science Technology/Engineering Framework 2006, page 7, The Nature of Science)
  2. Give examples of ways in which genetic variation and environmental factors are causes of evolution and the diversity of organisms. (MA Science Technology/Engineering Framework 2006, Life Science 6-8 standard # 10.)
  3. Relate the extinction of species to a mismatch of adaptation and the environment. (MA Science Technology/Engineering Framework 2006, Life Science 6-8 standard # 12.)
    Explain the roles and relationships among producers, consumers, and decomposers in the process of energy transfer in a food web. (MA Science Technology/Engineering Framework 2006, Life Science 6-8 standard # 14.)
    Explain how dead plants and animals are broken down by other living organisms and how this process contributes to the system as a whole. (MA Science Technology/Engineering Framework 2006, Life Science 6-8 standard # 15.)

Essential Question:

How do organisms adapt to their environment? How do their adaptations help them in their roles within an ecosystem?

Lesson Question:

Introduction:

In this unit, the 7E learning model in science instruction is used to introduce 7th grade students in understanding adaptations of organisms and their environment.

Students will first understand that in some cases there is no absolute answer in science through a blackbox investigation activity.

Next, students will explore how butterflies can adapt to different environment by blending with the colors in an environment.

Students will also review the ecological organization system – ecosystem, (biotic and abiotic factors), organisms, food web, and food chain.

Students will be able to describe autotrophs (producers) and heterotrophs (consumers, decomposers) and their relationship on the food web. Two common misconceptions, including:

  1. Species change over very long time, not just overnight;
  2. Scientists continue to test and retest their hypothesis, which means an experiment does not end at the conclusion of one test only.

Task:

First, students will elicit prior knowledge and understand in some cases there was no absolute answer in science through a blackbox activity. Students also try to understand butterflies adaptations using different online pictures.

Second, students investigate how different birds’ beaks are adapted to different environment through online study, matching game and look at a data graph on one species of birds over a few decades. Students will also submit a picture in teacher’s wiki with 1-2 sentences as an extension.

Last, students will be introduce the common terms in ecology and identify the roles of several organisms and how their adaptations help them with their roles in the ecosystem.

Lesson Experiences:

Procedure: (see details below)
A. Blackbox Investigation Activity (~15 min)
B. Butterfly Adaptations (~20 min)
C. Birds’ Beaks Adaptations (~ 45 min, not including extension)
D. Ecology Lesson (~45 min)

Process (include all steps of the lesson procedure):
A. Blackbox Investigation Activity:
Each small group gets a cube, which is taped onto a paper plate.
Closely look at this cube with only 5 sides exposed.
Guess the word on the side taped to the paper plate.
Discussion and sharing with whole class.
Individual student completes journal entry – What did I learn in this activity?
Debriefing with whole class: In some cases there was no absolute answer in science.
NOTE: My Black Box is about Colors. The 5 exposed sides are Red, Green, Orange, Yellow, Blue and Orange. The bottom side (taped to the bottom of the paper plate) and also posted online created using Cube Creator is "Purple." Sample templates are created using Cube Creator. Check out Cube Creator at ReadWriteThink.org


My sample cube is attached below.

Lee_cube 1.pdf

B. Butterfly Adaptations
Students will be assigned one of the three pictures of nature online.

a. Picture 1
b. Picture 2
c. Picture 3


Each student will have a paper butterfly to color with, so that their butterfly can "hide" in the picture.
After first round of whole class discussion, we will switch the butterflies from one picture to another picture. Focus Question: Can the butterfly still "blend in" with the picture?
Second round of whole group discussion focuses on adaptation, natural selection and how organisms are affected.
Check out the Peppered Moth simulation lab game online.
6. Watch a YouTube video on peppered moth.

7. Exit Question in student journal:

a. What is adaptation?

b.What changes the peppered moths' color in the video?

C. Birds’ Beaks Adaptations
Each small group will get a tray of materials.

  1. Use the different “tools” such as plastic fork, spoons, chopsticks, hairpins to try picking up different items on the plate. Write in the science journal - which tool is best suitable to pick up the item(s) on the plate.
  2. After whole group discussion on our “tools” and “items” on plate, proceed to study birds’ beaks online. Students can click on each picture to investigate how each beak shape is adapted for each species
  3. When students finished the online study, they move on to the Beak Adaptation Matching Activity online – students select the top 3 "most difficult too match" beaks out of the16 birds’ beaks during the first round they match the beaks to different feeding functions; share data on Google spreadsheets
  4. Working with a partner, they look at a Data Graph of Trending Counts of Rusty Blackbirds from 1966-2006 from National Audubon Society. Record as many things they find out on this graph.
  5. Whole group wrap-up discussion: Students share about their findings of the graph using overhead transparencies. Discuss about how the shapes of birds’ beaks are related to how these organisms adapt based on their food or environment. Also, look at the decline of Rusty Blackbirds over the decades and write down (in sci. journal) some of the reasons why these birds are declining quickly.
  6. Exit Questions in students’ journals: a. Do you think bird’s beak shape is related to what birds eat? b. Can you give two examples of how bird’s beaks are related (or not related) to the food they eat? (hint: You can use the examples from your online activities today.)
  7. Debriefing to Clarify misconceptions: 1. Species change over very long time, not just overnight. 2. Based on our list of “reasons of bird population declining,” do scientists end their investigations in 2006? Why?
  8. Extension/Homework: Use cellphone or digital camera to take pictures of organisms (birds, works, snails, insects, etc.) they find in the backyard or on their way home and bring the picture back for class discussion tomorrow. (Submit picture by uploading to teacher’s wiki. Write 1-2 sentence about why you select this picture.)

D. Ecology Lesson

  1. Students will review some key terms in ecology through online program - Quizlet – through self-study, game, self-test, etc.
  2. Whole class will discuss on the organisms they submitted on teacher’s wiki from previous lesson on adaptation.
  3. In small groups, students identify the roles of their organisms in an ecosystem (e.g. backyard) and if there are any adaptations of these organisms that are helpful for their roles in the ecosystem (e.g. avoid a predator).
  4. Wrap-up discussion with whole class, students will share what they found out in their groups. Explain: When we are not sure about the answer from our class, what could we do to find out more? Create the list of students’ suggestions on the board. Similar to our findings, scientists may perform more tests or re-test if they want to collect more data, learn more about why previous test results work or not work.
  5. Exit Questions in students’ journals: a. Do you think species change overnight? Why or why not? B. Can you think of some reasons that caused scientists to re-test their hypothesis more than once? (hint: Think about the Rusty Blackbird data graph and how scientists obtain data.)
  6. Teacher will create a Glog from Glogster EDU to be accessible on teacher’s website for students to view. Students will write one paragraph on what they like the most about this Glog.

Conclusion:

Students learn that in some cases there is not absolute answer in science. Also, organisms’ appearance or body structures (e.g. beaks of birds) are some examples of adaptations in their ecosystem. Students also understand that scientists continue to test or re-test their hypothesis.

Assessments:

rubrics

Resources:

1. Cube Creator at ReadWriteThink.org
2. Picture 1
3. Picture 2 taken from http://www.naturewallpaper.co.uk/wallpapers/nature-wallpaper-253.jpg
4. Picture 3 taken from
5. Peppered Moth Simulation Game
6. YouTube video on peppered moth
7. Bird Beak Study- click on each picture to investigate how each beak shape is adapted for each species
8. Beak Adaptation Matching Activity online – match 16 birds’ beaks for different feeding functions
9. Data Graph of Trending Counts of Rusty Blackbirds from 1966-2006 from National Audubon Society
10. Ecology flashcards
11. Teacher will create a Glog from Glogster EDU