General Science and Teaching

Energy Flow Misconceptions

What are some misconceptions students would have about energy flow in an ecosystem?

Dominique Whitaker
Dominique Whitaker
920 Activity Points

The biggest misconception is that matter cycles and energy flows. They think energy cycles. Instead, use the energy pyramid to show some energy is lost as one consumer eats the next. They also think plants don't use the energy they store for their own life functions.

Deborah Sparby
Deborah Sparby
5040 Activity Points

Hi Dominique

Deborah is right about energy as it only 'flows' in one direction. You might be interested in looking at the information from the NSTA SciGuide Flow of Matter and Energy in Ecosystems

"Flow of Matter and Energy in Ecosystems SciGuide includes a variety of resources that explore the relationships and interactive on matter and energy in ecosystem as well as concentrating on carbon and it's role in ecosystems."

This is an excerpt from the intro:

"Unlike matter, energy flows through an ecosystem in one direction. The path energy takes from photosynthetic organisms to herbivores to omnivores and carnivores and decomposers leads to less and less energy being available to support life. This loss of useable energy occurs because each energy transfer results in the loss of some energy into the environment as heat. Continual input of energy from sunlight is necessary to keep ecosystems organized and functioning."

Arlene Jurewicz-Leighton
Arlene Jurewicz Leighton
42060 Activity Points

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