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Interdependence of Life: Species Relationships Science Object
Science Object
Interdependence of Life: Species Relationships
Grade Level: Elementary School, High School, Middle School
Science Objects are two hour on-line interactive inquiry-based content modules that help teachers better understand the science content they teach. This Science Object is the second of four Science Objects in the Interdependence of Life SciPack. It explores species relationships.

All organisms, both land-based and aquatic, are interrelated by their need for resources. One example of a network of interconnections is called a food web;...  [view full summary]
Science Objects are two hour on-line interactive inquiry-based content modules that help teachers better understand the science content they teach. This Science Object is the second of four Science Objects in the Interdependence of Life SciPack. It explores species relationships.

All organisms, both land-based and aquatic, are interrelated by their need for resources. One example of a network of interconnections is called a food web; it is a model of the interdependence among the organisms in populations of different species. Predator-prey and parasitic relationships are examples of interspecies relationships, interdependence that occurs among organisms in different species in a food web.

Interspecies relationships can be categorized as positive, negative, or neutral for the fitness of the individuals and their populations who are involved. A change in the population of one species can affect the population of another species. Intra-species relationships, or interdependence among organisms of the same species, can also affect a population.

Learning Outcomes:
  • Given the specific nature of an interspecies relationship, categorize the relationship between two interrelated populations as positive, negative or neutral for each population.
  • Given a description of a change to one population depicted in a food web, predict changes that might occur in the size and rate of growth for other populations depicted in the food web.
  • Given a line graph displaying changes in population sizes and rates of growth for a number of populations in a community, along with a description of the trophic relationships among populations, generate plausible hypotheses about causes of the changes depicted in the graph.

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Interdependence of Life: Population Balance in Biomes Science Object
Science Object
Interdependence of Life: Population Balance in Biomes
Grade Level: Elementary School, High School, Middle School
Science Objects are two hour on-line interactive inquiry-based content modules that help teachers better understand the science content they teach. This Science Object is the third of four Science Objects in the Interdependence of Life SciPack. It explores population balance in biomes.

Interdependent and fluctuating interactions among living organisms and populations and the abiotic components of their environment cause cyclical...  [view full summary]
Science Objects are two hour on-line interactive inquiry-based content modules that help teachers better understand the science content they teach. This Science Object is the third of four Science Objects in the Interdependence of Life SciPack. It explores population balance in biomes.

Interdependent and fluctuating interactions among living organisms and populations and the abiotic components of their environment cause cyclical changes in the overall ecosystem resource equilibrium.

Interactions among living organisms within a population and among organisms of different populations take place on an ever-changing environmental stage. The nonliving environment—including land and water, solar radiation, rainfall, mineral concentrations, temperature and topography—shapes Earth’s ecosystems. Because each species can tolerate a limited range of physical conditions, the diversity of physical conditions creates a wide variety of ecosystems. In all these environments organisms use vital, yet limited, resources; each seeking its share in specific ways that are limited by biotic and abiotic factors.

Learning Outcomes:
  • Explain why there are such diverse ecosystems on Earth.
  • Given a description of changes in abiotic factors defining an ecosystem (i.e. temperature, precipitation, soil composition, atmospheric composition, amount of available solar energy) and the tolerance of a few species to these factors, identify graphs that accurately predict their effects on size and growth rate of these species.
  • Identify and explain graphs that accurately represent examples of dynamic equilibrium.
  • Explain how the population sizes of predators and their prey maintain a balance over many generations.

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Interdependence of Life: Organisms and Their Environments Science Object
Science Object
Interdependence of Life: Organisms and Their Environments
Grade Level: Elementary School, High School, Middle School
Science Objects are two hour on-line interactive inquiry-based content modules that help teachers better understand the science content they teach. This Science Object is the first of four Science Objects in the Interdependence of Life in Ecosystems SciPack. It explores organisms and their environments.

All organisms, including human beings, live within and depend on the resources in their environment. These resources include both...  [view full summary]
Science Objects are two hour on-line interactive inquiry-based content modules that help teachers better understand the science content they teach. This Science Object is the first of four Science Objects in the Interdependence of Life in Ecosystems SciPack. It explores organisms and their environments.

All organisms, including human beings, live within and depend on the resources in their environment. These resources include both living (biotic) factors such as food and nonliving (abiotic) factors such as air and water. The size and rate of growth of the population of any species, including humans, are affected by these environmental factors. In turn, these environmental factors are affected by the size and rate of growth of a population. Populations are limited in growth to the carrying capacity of the ecosystem, which is the amount of life any environmental system can support with its available space, energy, water, and food.

Learning Outcomes:
  • Identify and describe biotic and abiotic factors that influence the size and growth rate of a specific population in a particular environment.
  • Describe possible immediate and long-term effects on an individual population that exceeds the carrying capacity of its environment.
  • Given a line graph displaying an individual population size and its rate of growth, infer the carrying capacity of the environment for that population.

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Flow of Matter and Energy in Ecosystems: Carbon, Carbon Everywhere Science Object
Science Object
Flow of Matter and Energy in Ecosystems: Carbon, Carbon Everywhere
Grade Level: Elementary School, High School, Middle School
Science Objects are two hour on-line interactive inquiry-based content modules that help teachers better understand the science content they teach. This Science Object is the second of three Science Objects in the Flow of Matter and Energy in Ecosystems SciPack. It explores how the cycling of carbon and other nutrients from non-living to living components and back is one of the most important of ecosystem functions and is representative of the cycling...  [view full summary]
Science Objects are two hour on-line interactive inquiry-based content modules that help teachers better understand the science content they teach. This Science Object is the second of three Science Objects in the Flow of Matter and Energy in Ecosystems SciPack. It explores how the cycling of carbon and other nutrients from non-living to living components and back is one of the most important of ecosystem functions and is representative of the cycling of other elements.

All matter that comprises organic molecules, including hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorous and others are transferred cyclically among living organisms and their non-living environment. The cycling of elements from non-living to living components and back is one of the most important ecosystem characteristics. For example, carbon, an essential element in organic molecules, is conserved as it is transferred from inorganic carbon in an ecosystem to organic molecules in living organisms of the ecosystem and back as inorganic carbon to the environment. The carbon cycle, in the following description, serves as an example of one of the essential biogeochemical cycles.

Learning Outcomes:
  • Trace the path of a carbon atom from the atmosphere through a biomass pyramid and ultimately back to the atmosphere
  • Describe how photosynthesis and consumer respiration affect the flow of carbon through an ecosystem
  • Predict the biological effects of increasing levels of atmospheric carbon due to the massive combustion of fossil fuels
  • Identify the process that emits carbon to the atmosphere from producers, consumers and decomposers

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Flow of Matter and Energy in Ecosystems: Nothing Matters Without Energy Science Object
Science Object
Flow of Matter and Energy in Ecosystems: Nothing Matters Without Energy
Grade Level: Elementary School, High School, Middle School
Science Objects are two hour on-line interactive inquiry-based content modules that help teachers better understand the science content they teach. This Science Object is the third of three Science Objects in the Flow of Matter and Energy in Ecosystems SciPack. It explores how energy flows through an ecosystem in one direction, from photosynthetic organisms to herbivores to omnivores and carnivores and decomposers. As the energy flows, less and...  [view full summary]
Science Objects are two hour on-line interactive inquiry-based content modules that help teachers better understand the science content they teach. This Science Object is the third of three Science Objects in the Flow of Matter and Energy in Ecosystems SciPack. It explores how energy flows through an ecosystem in one direction, from photosynthetic organisms to herbivores to omnivores and carnivores and decomposers. As the energy flows, less and less energy isavailable to support life.

Plants capture the sun's energy and use it to synthesize complex, energy-rich molecules (chiefly sugars) from molecules of carbon dioxide and water. Because plants and other photosynthetic organisms use energy from the sun and inorganic molecules from the environment to produce organic molecules needed for life, they are called producers. The organisms that consume the producers (called consumers) derive energy and materials from breaking down the producers’ molecules, use them to synthesize their own structures and then may be consumed by other organisms. Decomposers (organisms that break down dead producers and consumers and organic waste) obtain the energy they need to live from chemical bonds of the dead and waste-matter. The energy is transferred both to the decomposer (for growth and development) and to the ecosystem (as heat energy). Food webs and energy pyramids are models or representations that can be used to track the flow of energy in the ecosystem. Food webs detail the flow of energy through the populations in the ecosystems whereas the pyramid model quantifies the flow of energy through various levels in an ecosystem. Unlike matter, as energy flows through an ecosystem in one direction, from photosynthetic organisms to herbivores to omnivores and carnivores and decomposers, less and less energy becomes available to support life. This loss of useable energy occurs because each energy transfer results in the dissipation of some energy into the environment as heat. Continual input of energy from sunlight is necessary to keep ecosystems organized and functioning.

Learning Outcomes:
  • Explain how a food web describes the flow of energy within an ecosystem
  • Explain the role that the amount of sunlight available to an ecosystem plays on defining the size and types of populations within an ecosystem
  • Use the characteristics of energy transfer (from one population to another) to explain the structure of an energy pyramid for organisms living in a community
  • Explain why, if energy is conserved in the interaction of consumers and producers, there is less energy at the consumer level compared to the producer level in an energy pyramid
  • Explain why a vegetarian diet for humans requires less energy to produce the food needed than a diet that includes meat and fish does
  • Compare the flow of matter with the flow of energy among organisms and between organisms and their environment in an ecosystem

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Ocean's Effect on Weather and Climate: Global Precipitation and Energy
 Science Object
Science Object
Ocean's Effect on Weather and Climate: Global Precipitation and Energy
Grade Level: Elementary School, Middle School
Science Objects are two hour on-line interactive inquiry-based content modules that help teachers better understand the science content they teach. This Science Object, co-developed between NOAA and NSTA, is the second of four Science Objects in the Ocean’s Effect on Weather and Climate SciPack. It explores the distribution of water and energy on Earth. The cycling of water in and out of the atmosphere and oceans affects Earth’s climates by influencing...  [view full summary]
Science Objects are two hour on-line interactive inquiry-based content modules that help teachers better understand the science content they teach. This Science Object, co-developed between NOAA and NSTA, is the second of four Science Objects in the Ocean’s Effect on Weather and Climate SciPack. It explores the distribution of water and energy on Earth. The cycling of water in and out of the atmosphere and oceans affects Earth’s climates by influencing patterns of precipitation and by transferring energy between the oceans and the atmosphere. As water moves through the water cycle, it evaporates from Earth’s surface, rises and cools, condenses into rain, snow, or ice, and falls back to the surface. The water falling on land collects in rivers and lakes, soil, and porous layers of rock, and much of it eventually flows back into the ocean. The water cycle connects the oceans to all of Earth’s water reservoirs via evaporation and precipitation. The ocean loses thermal energy due to the evaporation of water. This energy transfer drives atmospheric circulation as water moves to the atmosphere as vapor and eventually condenses, releasing thermal energy to the surrounding air.
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Ocean's Effect on Climate and Weather: Global Circulation Patterns
 Science Object
Science Object
Ocean's Effect on Climate and Weather: Global Circulation Patterns
Grade Level: Elementary School, Middle School
Science Objects are two hour on-line interactive inquiry-based content modules that help teachers better understand the science content they teach. This Science Object, co-developed between NOAA and NSTA, is the third of four Science Objects in the Ocean’s Effect on Weather and Climate SciPack. It explores ocean circulation patterns and the effect oceans have on climate. Water in the oceans hold a lot of thermal energy (more than an equal amount of...  [view full summary]
Science Objects are two hour on-line interactive inquiry-based content modules that help teachers better understand the science content they teach. This Science Object, co-developed between NOAA and NSTA, is the third of four Science Objects in the Ocean’s Effect on Weather and Climate SciPack. It explores ocean circulation patterns and the effect oceans have on climate. Water in the oceans hold a lot of thermal energy (more than an equal amount of land). Throughout the ocean there is a global, interconnected circulation system that transfers this thermal energy across Earth. The shape of ocean basins and adjacent land masses influence the path of circulation. As ocean currents transfer thermal energy to various locations, the temperature of the atmosphere above the ocean is affected. For example, the condensation of water that has been evaporated from warm seas provides the energy for hurricanes and cyclones. When the pattern of thermal energy released into the atmosphere changes, global weather patterns are affected. An example of a large-scale change like this is the El Niño Southern Oscillation, which changes the pattern of thermal energy released into the atmosphere in the Pacific.
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Ocean's Effect on Weather and Climate: Global Climate Patterns
 Science Object
Science Object
Ocean's Effect on Weather and Climate: Global Climate Patterns
Grade Level: Elementary School, Middle School
Science Objects are two hour on-line interactive inquiry-based content modules that help teachers better understand the science content they teach. This Science Object, co-developed between NOAA and NSTA, is the first of four Science Objects in the Ocean’s Effect on Weather and Climate SciPack. It explores global weather and climate patterns, focusing on why different conditions exist in specific areas. Earth’s weather patterns, which consist of different...  [view full summary]
Science Objects are two hour on-line interactive inquiry-based content modules that help teachers better understand the science content they teach. This Science Object, co-developed between NOAA and NSTA, is the first of four Science Objects in the Ocean’s Effect on Weather and Climate SciPack. It explores global weather and climate patterns, focusing on why different conditions exist in specific areas. Earth’s weather patterns, which consist of different conditions of temperature, precipitation, humidity, wind, air pressure, and other atmospheric phenomena, result in various climate zones across the globe. Weather and climate are the result of the transfer of energy from the Sun at and near the surface of Earth. Solar radiation heats land masses, oceans, and air differently, resulting in the constant transfer of energy as energy is “balanced” across the globe. Transfer of thermal energy at the boundaries between the atmosphere, land masses, and the oceans—influenced by dynamic processes such as cloud cover and relatively static conditions such as the position of mountain ranges and oceans—results in layers of different temperatures and densities in both the ocean and atmosphere. The action of gravitational force on regions of different densities causes them to rise or fall, forming convection currents (cells). This circulation, influenced by the rotation of the earth, produces winds and ocean currents.
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Interdependence of Life: Agents of Change in Ecosystems Science Object
Science Object
Interdependence of Life: Agents of Change in Ecosystems
Grade Level: Elementary School, High School, Middle School
Science Objects are two hour on-line interactive inquiry-based content modules that help teachers better understand the science content they teach. This Science Object is the fourth of four Science Objects in the Interdependence of Life SciPack. It explores agents of change in ecosystems.

Various influences (including human impact, natural disasters, climate change, and the appearance of new species) can force an ecosystem into...  [view full summary]
Science Objects are two hour on-line interactive inquiry-based content modules that help teachers better understand the science content they teach. This Science Object is the fourth of four Science Objects in the Interdependence of Life SciPack. It explores agents of change in ecosystems.

Various influences (including human impact, natural disasters, climate change, and the appearance of new species) can force an ecosystem into a state of different equilibrium. Depending on both the severity of the disturbance and the diversity of populations, feedback mechanisms may be sufficient to restore a state of equilibrium similar to the original ecosystem. However, if the disruptive influences are so severe (in duration and/or degree) they can push an ecosystem beyond its capacity to maintain equilibrium, irreversibly altering the system. In this case, a new point of dynamic equilibrium is eventually established, thus defining a new ecosystem.

Learning Outcomes:
  • Describe how populations might reach a new state of equilibrium following significant changes to the conditions (abiotic and biotic factors) defining their ecosystem.
  • Sequence and provide the rationale for a series of ecological processes that could logically occur following a large-scale disruption.
  • Given a description of factors that influence and affect population sizes in an ecosystem, identify those factors that could most likely contribute to an ecosystem’s long-term inability to return to dynamic equilibrium.
  • Explain how human activity (mining, dam construction, housing development) could affect the equilibrium of an ecosystem.

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Nature of Light: Light as Waves Science Object
Science Object
Nature of Light: Light as Waves
Grade Level: Elementary School, Middle School
Science Objects are two hour on-line interactive inquiry-based content modules that help teachers better understand the science content they teach. This Science Object is the second of four Science Objects in the Nature of Light SciPack. It provides conceptual and real world understanding of the idea that waves (including sound and seismic waves, waves on water, and light waves) have energy and can transfer energy when they interact with matter....  [view full summary]
Science Objects are two hour on-line interactive inquiry-based content modules that help teachers better understand the science content they teach. This Science Object is the second of four Science Objects in the Nature of Light SciPack. It provides conceptual and real world understanding of the idea that waves (including sound and seismic waves, waves on water, and light waves) have energy and can transfer energy when they interact with matter. Wave behavior can be described in terms of how fast the disturbance propagates, and of the distance between successive crests or troughs of the wave (the wavelength). Accelerating electric charges produce electromagnetic waves which can be organized into a spectrum of varying wavelengths (and frequencies): radio waves, microwaves, radiant heat or infrared radiation, visible light, ultraviolet radiation, x-rays, and gamma rays. These wavelengths vary from radio waves (the longest) to gamma rays (the shortest). Human eyes only respond to a narrow range of wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation—what we call visible light. In empty space, electromagnetic waves of all wavelengths move at the same speed—the "speed of light."
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