Physical Science

The Role of Light Energy in Open Ocean Ecosystems

The significance of light energy in the different zones of the ocean is a great topic which allows students to see how light energy from the sun influences temperature, population growth, and species diversity. Even at the elementary level, students are amazed to see how sunlight affects ecosystems in the ocean. Another very captivating exploration is the exceptional world of ecosystems found in areas with hydrothermal vents. These explorations are a great way for students to see how energy transforms and shapes living organisms in ecosystems.

Laud Gaba
Laud Gaba
1090 Activity Points

Is this a topic that you've taught lessons about? If so, I'd be interested in seeing what you have on the topic. -Stacia

Stacia Brown
Stacia Brown
560 Activity Points

My 4th graders did an exploration of this last year. It worked out really great especially as the kids realized that with a decrease in the energy from the sun there was also a decrease in the diversity of populations.

Laud Gaba
Laud Gaba
1090 Activity Points

Laud, What was the activity where they explored the differences in life with decreased life? It really sounds interesting if it's hands-on. -Stacia

Stacia Brown
Stacia Brown
560 Activity Points

Stacia, Actually I did this as an add-on communal activity. It was simple but impactful, actually brought about by one of my students after we studied energy pyramids and how populations size shrinks as energy diminshes in its move upward from producers through ecosystems. The class watched a video about marine ecosystems and the effects of sunlight and other abiotic factors on marine life in the sunlight, twilight, and deep sea zones of the ocean. Realizing that an abundance of ocean life are found in the sunlight zones near the surface, a very perceptive and insightful student pointedly remarked that the energy pyramid aptly applied to oceans ecosystems too. This led to a good class discussion about this and made me consider the idea of the kids working into groups to research population types and sizes in each zone and then constructing a big population/ energy pyramid to show this apparent relationship of sunlight to the density of living things in ocean ecosystems. It became another great way for the students to understand what happened as sunlight decreased or increased in an ecosystem. Of course the presence of the warm vents on the ocean floor where bacteria make food from hydrogen sulfide are an exception to this trend.

Laud Gaba
Laud Gaba
1090 Activity Points

Laud, I recently started to teach the 4th grade this year. My students really enjoyed the ecosystems unit and learning about the 10% rule. They did a fantastic job learning about the organisms on the land. I think that I could have done a better job by allowing them about the aquatic ecosystem. I mean, I talked about it, but not to the extreme as I did with land ecosystems. Could you supply more information to me so that I could incorporate this into my unit for next school year? Are there any links that you suggest?

Raymond Jones
Raymond Jones
740 Activity Points

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