Plankton Food Web Activity: For Teachers
This activity is a great way to show students how complex food webs are.
Tips for Classroom Implementation
Time Required: 50 minutes
Classroom set-up: Supply each student (or pair of students) with the three worksheets “Marine Food Web”, “Marine Organisms”, and “What do I eat?” (download PDF). Supply markers, scissors, and glue.
- This activity can be done independently but I have found it works best in pairs.
- Read “Invisible Watery World” as a class before beginning this activity. It gives students background information about how plankton fit into the food web.
- This is a great activity to do after a lesson on feeding relationships. It allows students to use the information they just received to build a food web showing the feeding relationships found in an aquatic ecosystem.
Have students answer the following questions using their completed marine food web.
- What would happen to your food web if the phytoplankton died out because of water pollution?
- How would the jellyfish population be affected if sea turtles were removed?
- How important are plankton the marine food web? Explain your answer using evidence from your food web.
- Why do we use arrows when creating a food web? What do they represent?
- Using the food chain below, summarize the flow of energy from organism to organism.
Sun >> Phytoplankton >> Zooplankton >> Small fish >> jellyfish >> Sea Turtle
- Create a food web using the organisms found in a sample of pond water. (requires microscope)
- Create a food web using different biomes (rain forest, desert, grasslands)
- Students will identify the relationships among organisms within and aquatic ecosystem.
- Students will diagram the energy flow in an ecosystem through a food chain.
Arizona Science Standards
Strand 4: Life Science
Concept 3: Populations of Organisms in Ecosystems
- PO 1. Explain that sunlight is the major source of energy for most ecosystems.
- PO 1. Compare food chains in a specified ecosystem and their corresponding food web.
- PO 3. Analyze the interactions of living organisms with their ecosystems.
- PO 6. Create a model of the interactions of living organisms within an ecosystem.
- PO 1. Identify the relationships among organisms within populations, communities, ecosystems, and biomes.
Concept 5: Matter, Energy, and Organization in Living Systems
- PO 4. Diagram the energy flow in an ecosystem through a food chain.
Common Core Standards
6-8.RST.4. Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6–8 texts and topics.
- Read about food chains and food webs, and then identify the linguistic roots and affixes to help them identify the meanings of terms related to trophic levels, such as carnivore, herbivore, omnivore, autotroph, and heterotrophy. SC07-S4C3-01
- Determine the meaning of the direction of the arrows in the food chains and food webs (SC07-S4C3-01).
6-8.RST.7. Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).
- Integrate written descriptions of a Marine food web with visual representations of the Marine food web.
Next Generation Science Standards
- Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for the role of photosynthesis in the cycling of matter and flow of energy into and out of organisms.
Colleen Miks received her Bachelors of Science in Fisheries Biology from Humboldt State University. She received her Masters of Education from Plymouth State University and teaches Earth and Space Science at Sossaman Middle School in Gilbert Arizona.