SciPackDigital resources are stored online in your NSTA Library.
SciPacks are self-directed online learning experiences for teachers to enhance their understanding of a particular scientific concept and its related pedagogical implications for student learning. Unlimited expert content help via email and a final assessment both facilitate and document teacher learning.
The Flow of Matter and Energy in Ecosystems SciPack explores the systemic interplay and flow of matter and energy throughout ecosystems, populations and organisms. Energy from the sun is the direct or indirect source of energy for nearly all organisms, it can flow only in one direction through ecosystems: from the sun to producers, to consumers, and finally to decomposers. Unlike the unidirectional transformation of energy, matter cycles among ecosystem components. One key ecosystem function, the cycling of carbon from non-living to living components and back, serves as a primary example in this SciPack for how all nutrients cycle on Earth. Webs and pyramids are used to model and communicate about the transfer of energy and cycling of matter within an ecosystem, representing how the total living biomass stays roughly constant—cycling materials from old to new life—accompanied by an irreversible flow of energy from captured sunlight into dissipated heat.