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Flow of Matter and Energy in Ecosystems: Does Matter Matter? Science Object
Science Object
Flow of Matter and Energy in Ecosystems: Does Matter Matter?
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 three Science Objects in the Flow of Matter and Energy in Ecosystems SciPack. It explores the structure of the biomass in an ecosystem and overall cycling of matter. However complex the workings of living organisms, they share with all other systems the same physical...  [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 three Science Objects in the Flow of Matter and Energy in Ecosystems SciPack. It explores the structure of the biomass in an ecosystem and overall cycling of matter. However complex the workings of living organisms, they share with all other systems the same physical principles that describe the conservation and transformation of matter.

Ecosystems are a community of interdependent organisms and the chemical and physical factors making up the environment with which they interact. For every ecosystem on Earth there is a particular biomass (matter) distribution among organisms in its populations. While the specific biomass distribution in any given ecosystem is unique because of resource availability, there is a common overall biomass distribution pattern in all ecosystems. Greater biomass exists in populations that obtain matter from the physical environment than in populations that obtain matter from other living organisms. As matter flows through different levels of organization in living systems—cells, organs, organisms, communities—and between living systems and the physical environment, chemical elements are recombined in different ways. Matter is conserved through each change.

Learning Outcomes:
  • Define an ecosystem and understand how it comprises an interdependent community of organisms along with their interactions with the chemical and physical components of the environment
  • Categorize organisms in a community based on their sources of matter/biomass and nutrients as one of the following: producers, herbivores (primary consumers), carnivores (secondary consumers; tertiary or top-consumers),
  • omnivores, and decomposers
  • Predict the relative biomass for different levels in a biomass pyramid for a typical ecosystem
  • Explain how matter is conserved in the interactions between consumers and producers, but that in a biomass pyramid there is less biomass at the consumer level compared to the producer level

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Earth's Changing Surface: Humans as Agents of Change Science Object
Science Object
Earth's Changing Surface: Humans as Agents of Change
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 last of three Science Objects in the Earth’s Changing Surface SciPack. It explores the natural and human influences on landscape evolution. These influences sometimes accelerate or slow down the process of landscape evolution. Human activities such as deforestation, accelerated...  [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 last of three Science Objects in the Earth’s Changing Surface SciPack. It explores the natural and human influences on landscape evolution. These influences sometimes accelerate or slow down the process of landscape evolution. Human activities such as deforestation, accelerated global warming, and mining have impacted Earth’s changing surface. These activities are not new processes but often increase or accentuate the natural processes. When natural processes are accelerated, humans are often affected by the changes in their environment.
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Nutrition: What Happens to the Food I Eat? Science Object
Science Object
Nutrition: What Happens to the Food I Eat?
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, co-developed between FDA and NSTA, is the second of four Science Objects in the Nutrition SciPack. It discusses how the body makes use of foods’ nutrients, after food is digested into simpler substances. These simpler substances must then be absorbed through the lining of the small...  [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 FDA and NSTA, is the second of four Science Objects in the Nutrition SciPack. It discusses how the body makes use of foods’ nutrients, after food is digested into simpler substances. These simpler substances must then be absorbed through the lining of the small intestine and transported for use throughout the body for physiological processes. In cells, these nutrients and substances derived from them are taken in and react to provide the biochemical constituents needed to synthesize other molecules. Some cells store energy from the breakdown of some nutrients in specific chemicals that are used to carry out the many functions of the cell. The circulatory system moves substances to the cells and removes waste products. Lungs take in oxygen for metabolism and eliminate the carbon dioxide produced, excretory systems rid the body of dissolved and solid waste products, and the skin and lungs rid the body of excess heat energy.
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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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Nutrition: What are Nutrients? Science Object
Science Object
Nutrition: What are Nutrients?
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, co-developed between FDA and NSTA, is the third of four Science Objects in the Nutrition SciPack. It explores nutrients and the specific physiological functions associated with each nutrient. Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins provide energy for body movement and physiological processes;...  [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 FDA and NSTA, is the third of four Science Objects in the Nutrition SciPack. It explores nutrients and the specific physiological functions associated with each nutrient. Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins provide energy for body movement and physiological processes; proteins provide building material for body tissue as well as substances for important physiological processes; and vitamins and minerals regulate body processes. Water carries nutrients, provides an environment for many physiological functions and is part of the composition of the body itself. Getting too much or too little of these nutrients can cause undesired effects; good nutrition involves getting the right amounts {and in the right combinations}. Other substances in food, including phytonutrients, may also have important health benefits that are not yet well understood.
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Resources and Human Impact: Earth as a System Science Object
Science Object
Resources and Human Impact: Earth as a System
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 Resources and Human Impact SciPack. It explores how human beings, who live within and depend on Earth’s ecosystems, modify the land, ocean, and atmosphere. In all environments, organisms, including humans,...  [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 Resources and Human Impact SciPack. It explores how human beings, who live within and depend on Earth’s ecosystems, modify the land, ocean, and atmosphere. In all environments, organisms, including humans, cooperate or compete with one another for resources. These resources include food, air, water, and space. The size and rate of growth of all 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 by the carrying capacity of the environment, which is the amount of life any ecosystem can support with its available space, energy, water, and food.
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Nutrition: What Choices Lead to a Healthy Lifestyle? Science Object
Science Object
Nutrition: What Choices Lead to a Healthy Lifestyle?
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, co-developed between FDA and NSTA, is the last of four Science Objects in the Nutrition SciPack. It demonstrates that variety, balance, and moderation in overall food choices are essential for human health, growth, and energy. The amounts of specific nutrients recommended for healthy...  [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 FDA and NSTA, is the last of four Science Objects in the Nutrition SciPack. It demonstrates that variety, balance, and moderation in overall food choices are essential for human health, growth, and energy. The amounts of specific nutrients recommended for healthy people depend on age, gender, heredity, and—for females—pregnancy and lactation. Energy recommendations—measured in calories—are set for age, gender, and physical activity level. Basal metabolic rate and body efficiency also impact energy needs. Food-guidance systems (e.g., MyPyramid) and nutrition information on food labels are founded in science-based evidence for nutrient and energy intake (e.g., Dietary Reference Intakes) and science-based dietary guidelines (e.g., Dietary Guidelines for Americans), and help people apply these recommendations to their daily food and lifestyle decisions. The food choices individuals make affect their nutritional status, and are influenced by personal, hereditary and social factors, as well as by individuals’ understanding of biological consequences.
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Resources and Human Impact: Environmental Degradation Science Object
Science Object
Resources and Human Impact: Environmental Degradation
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 Resources and Human Impact SciPack. It explores how human activities, such as reducing the amount of forest cover, increasing the amount and variety of chemicals that enter the atmosphere, intensive farming...  [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 Resources and Human Impact SciPack. It explores how human activities, such as reducing the amount of forest cover, increasing the amount and variety of chemicals that enter the atmosphere, intensive farming and fishing, and consuming fossil fuels have changed Earth’s land, oceans, and atmosphere. Although the land, atmosphere, and the oceans have a limited capacity to absorb wastes and recycle materials naturally, humans have disrupted these natural cycles. Fresh water, limited in supply, is essential for life and most industrial processes. Overuse and pollution of rivers, lakes, oceans, and groundwater reduces the availability and suitability of these resources for all organisms. Technology used in the extraction and consumption of fossil fuels needed to meet the growing human demand has increased the depletion of nonrenewable energy resources such as fossil fuels, and degraded or altered the environment, both locally and globally.
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Resources and Human Impact: Population Growth, Technology, and the Environment Science Object
Science Object
Resources and Human Impact: Population Growth, Technology, and the Environment
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 Resources and Human Impact SciPack. It explores how technology can solve problems, but at the same time, can also create new strains on the environment. Improved technology used for harvesting food, coupled...  [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 Resources and Human Impact SciPack. It explores how technology can solve problems, but at the same time, can also create new strains on the environment. Improved technology used for harvesting food, coupled with the technology of improved sanitation, has accelerated the growth of the human population. A larger human population increases the impact on the environment and its resources, many of which are limited and non renewable. Due to the rapid growth of the human population and their use of technology in many parts of the world, humans have exceeded the carrying capacity of their environment, compromising human health.
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Science of Food Safety: Microbes, Friend or Foe Science Object
Science Object
Science of Food Safety: Microbes, Friend or Foe
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 FDA and NSTA, is the third of four Science Objects in the Science of Food Safety SciPack. It explores how bacteria live in close concert with humans. Bacteria are masters at exploiting a variety of niches in the human body and live in huge colonies in places such...  [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 FDA and NSTA, is the third of four Science Objects in the Science of Food Safety SciPack. It explores how bacteria live in close concert with humans. Bacteria are masters at exploiting a variety of niches in the human body and live in huge colonies in places such as the skin, intestines and mouth. Most of these bacteria are harmless to the human body, and many are important in assisting its normal, healthy functioning. Disease in humans results when organisms such as bacteria interfere with the normal operation of the human body, most commonly foreign organisms entering the body. The human body has many mechanisms to protect itself against outside organisms that may interfere with its normal operation.

Bacteria that gain entrance to the body may form colonies in preferred organs or tissues, emitting harmful toxins as waste products. If the body's immune system cannot suppress a bacterial infection, an antibacterial drug may be effective—at least against the types of bacteria it was designed to combat. Viruses invade healthy cells and cause them to synthesize more viruses, usually killing those cells in the process.


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