Energy Pyramids and Food Webs

In this lesson, students identify the sun as the source of energy and understand how energy flows through an ecosystem. 

Context for Use

Project EXTREMES lessons were intended to be stand alone lessons.

Cows grazing

Cows grazing. Credit: dbaron

Goals Header
What Students Will Do

  • Students know and understand how living things interact with each other and their environment.
  • Explain how and energy flows through ecosystems and describe the significance of photosynthesis and respiration in this process.
  • Analyze the implications of interactions among organisms, populations, and their environment.
  • Compare and contrast food webs within and between different ecosystems.
  • Infer the number of organisms or amount of energy available at each level of an energy pyramid.


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Part 1 – Engage (10 minutes) Ecosystem Interactions and Energy Pyramids

Introduce the concepts of ecology and ecosystems, develop a focus on energy transfers, and explain how energy flows in a pyramid.

Part 2 – Explore and Explain (20 minutes) Food Webs

Discuss food webs by having the students draw their own webs using arrows to demonstrate energy flow, then move onto food web construction using string in smaller groups; finish this activity with a disturbance example.


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