ARCHIVED CONTENT: In December 2020, the CZO program was succeeded by the Critical Zone Collaborative Network (CZ Net) ×

Educational Resources

Grass, Rabbits, and Wolves-- Oh My!

Cows grazing
Cows grazing
Understand food chains and ecosystem interactions and predict how changes in species functions and interactions can impact the system.

Grades 3 - 8

Educational Objectives

By the end of this activity, students will be able to:

  • Explain the concepts of predators, prey, food chains, and food webs in an ecosystem.
  • Use a computer model

Visit this resource (pdf)


NGSS Crosscutting Concepts: Patterns | Cause and Effect - Mechanism and Explanation | Scale, Proportion, and Quantity | Systems and System Models | Energy and Matter - Flows, Cycles, and Conservation | Stability and Change

NGSS Science & Engineering Practices: Asking Questions and Defining Problems | Planning and Carrying Out Investigations | Analyzing and Interpreting Data | Developing and Using Models | Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas: PS3 - Energy | LS1 - From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes | LS2 - Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics | LS4 - Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity | ESS2 - Earth’s Systems | ETS1 - Engineering Design

Observatory: Sierra CZO

Author(s): Michelle Gilmore (UC Merced) and Lynn Sullivan (UC Merced)

Funding: Southern Sierra Critical Zone Observatory

Details for this Resource

In a food chain, producers and consumers transfer energy throughout an ecosystem. In this activity designed for 3rd-8th graders, students use a game of tag and a computer model to understand energy transfer through an ecosystem, and predict how changes in species functions and interactions can impact the system.

Note: Proposed NGSS alignment and 5E lesson structure (less Evaluate) are included in the activity guide. This activity was originally developed for Merced County Office of Education's TEAM-E Science Training for elementary and middle school teachers.