Eco-Inquiry, an ecology curriculum for grades 5-8 helps teachers transform their classrooms into centers of ecological research.

Day 7: Food for Thought


Students sort items into food and non-food categories, then play a game to get enough food - nutrients and energy - to support six ecosystem organisms.

Lesson Overview

Students will be able to:
- understand that all living things need nutrients and energy
- know that food is a substance that porvides both nutrients and energy
- realize that nutrients alone don't contain useable energy
- realize that their bodies are made of the same substances that food is made of because food becomes part of the body - you are what you eat!
- know that nutrients cycle in an ecosystem, whereas energy eventually is lost as heat
- know that plants get energy form sunlight and nutrients from soil, and animals get them both from their food

Session 1 - 40 min and Session 2 - 40 min

Session 1
For the class:

  • various food and non-food items:  FOOD - peanuts, sugar, flour, beef jerky, potato chips, candy, vegetables, fruit, bread, oatmeal, apple juice, grass or leaves, and insect or other small critter.      NON_FOOD - salt, water, potting soil, sand, rock, metal, sugar-free vitamin pills, fertilizer.
  • pair of safety glasses
  • pair of tweezers
  • match or lighter
  • small cup of water

Session 2
For each group of 6 students:

  • set of 6 "Organism Sheets"
  • set of "Game Cards"
  • copy of "Game Rules"

See Lesson Resources below for further details.

Lesson Resources
NYS Standards
MST 1 - Mathematical analysis, scientific inquiry, and engineering design
MST 4- Physical setting, living environment and nature of science
Benchmarks for Science Literacy
5E Flow of Matter and Energy
6E Physical Health

Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies | Millbrook, New York 12545 | Tel (845) 677-5343

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