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Resources and Human Impact: Using Technology to Address Resource Use Issues Science Object
Science Object
Resources and Human Impact: Using Technology to Address Resource Use Issues
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 last of four Science Objects in the Resources and Human Impact SciPack. It explores how human beings impact other species and the ecosystems in which they live. Due to our role in changing the environment, humans have a responsibility for...  [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 last of four Science Objects in the Resources and Human Impact SciPack. It explores how human beings impact other species and the ecosystems in which they live. Due to our role in changing the environment, humans have a responsibility for preserving their habitat. There are a variety of approaches to reducing or reversing the human impact on the environment such as limiting population growth, reducing resource use, modifying population distribution, recycling resources, and the wise use of technology to solve problems. Managing resources by cleaning up polluted air, water, or soil or restoring depleted soil, forests, or fishing grounds can be difficult and costly but are critical for human health. Alternative energy resources such as wind, tides, and solar radiation can be utilized to reduce the consumption of fossil fuel-based energy sources. Social, political, and economic factors involve tradeoffs that will strongly influence the types and extent to which technologies will be developed and used.
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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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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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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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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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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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Science of Food Safety: Food Safety and You Science Object
Science Object
Science of Food Safety: Food Safety and You
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 last of four Science Objects inthe Science of Food Safety SciPack. It explores the scientist involved with the development of germ theory and pasteurization, which brought about great changes in the safe handling of food and water, and improved...  [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 inthe Science of Food Safety SciPack. It explores the scientist involved with the development of germ theory and pasteurization, which brought about great changes in the safe handling of food and water, and improved sanitation measures that represent some of the greatest public health contributions to date. More recently, humans have instituted laws requiring the monitoring of air, soil, and water for microorganisms that pose a threat to human health. Such agricultural and food safety regulations represent social trade-offs that ensure the population's general welfare at the price of increased cost or lowered efficiency. In addition to these large-scale societal precautions, humans rely heavily on personal measures to limit the transmission of invasive organisms into their bodies. These measures include keeping hands and skin clean, avoiding contaminated foods and liquids, cleaning and separating food items properly during preparation, cooking food at high enough temperatures for proper lengths of time, and keeping the temperature of food sufficiently low at all times when it is not being prepared or consumed.


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Heredity and Variation: Mutation Provides Variation Science Object
Science Object
Heredity and Variation: Mutation Provides Variation
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 Heredity and Variation SciPack. It explores the role of mutations in genetic variation. The random combination of genes during sexual reproduction is not the only source of variation in organisms. Although some genes may be passed...  [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 Heredity and Variation SciPack. It explores the role of mutations in genetic variation.

The random combination of genes during sexual reproduction is not the only source of variation in organisms. Although some genes may be passed for many thousands of generations with no consequential changes in its function, occasionally a mutation occurs in which a gene may be altered. Gene mutations can occur spontaneously through random errors in copying, or induced by chemicals or radiation that affect the DNA’s chemical bonds. Only if a mutated gene is in a gamete is it possible for copies of it to be passed down to offspring, becoming part of all their cells, altering the nature of some proteins produced by the DNA. The function of a mutated gene may not be altered or it may have its function in protein synthesis altered, which subsequently affects the physical traits expressed in the organism. Mutations provide additional sources of variation that can be helpful, harmful or of no impact on the survival an individual.

Learning Outcomes:
  • Compare and contrast genetic mutations with genetic variations resulting from the process of meiosis.
  • Identify and describe the general processes involved in the creation of genetic mutations.
  • Describe possible consequences of genetic mutations.
  • Describe conditions necessary for genetic mutations to be inherited by an organism’s offspring.

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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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