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Food for Thought

Unit Plan: Who Eats What?Lesson: 7 Time: Session 1 (40 min) and Session 2 (40 min) Setting: Classroom
3-5, 6-8Schoolyard Ecology
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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.


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
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"

Lesson Files

Food for Thought

Benchmarks for Science Literacy

5E Flow of Matter and Energy, 6E Physical Health

NYS Standards

MST 1 - Mathematical analysis, scientific inquiry, and engineering design, MST 4- Physical setting, living environment and nature of science
Next Generation Science Standards

Science and Engineering Practices

Asking questions and defining problems, Planning and carrying out investigations

Cross Cutting Concepts


Disciplinary Core Ideas

LS2A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems
New York State Science Learning Standards

Performance Expectations

MS-LS2-2. Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms in a variety of ecosystems.

Hogan, Kathleen. Eco-Inquiry: A Guide to Ecological Learning Experiences for the Upper Elementary/Middle Grades. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, PO Box 1840, 4050 Westmark Drive, Dubuque, IA 52004-1840., 1994.