Populations and Ecosystems, Second Edition

Grades 6 - 8

An ecosystem is the largest organizational unit of life on Earth, defined by a physical environment and the organisms that make their living there. The revised FOSS Populations and Ecosystems course draws from the original course's rich, active-learning investigations to help students learn that every organism has a role to play in its ecosystem, and has structures and behaviors that allow it to survive. This course provides the first steps of ecological understanding for students, with the hope that their future steps will be considered and measured, with the interests of all life being served.

Instructionally, the course has been enhanced by the addition of embedded notebooking techniques, recommended homework assignments, and greater support for in-class readings and multimedia activities.

FOSS Components

  • Teacher Toolkit
    • Investigations Guide
    • Teacher Resources
    • FOSS Science Resources Book
  • Equipment Kit
    Materials for five classes of students
  • FOSS Science Resources
    (book of original readings developed to accompany this course, along with images and data to analyze)
  • FOSSweb and Technology Access
    (interactive site for students and teachers)
  • Ongoing Professional Development
    (from Delta Education and Lawrence Hall of Science)

Program Features

  • Active investigations, including outdoor experiences and online simulations
  • Recording in science notebooks to answer the focus question
  • Reading in FOSS Science Resources
  • Assessment to monitor progress and motivate student reflection on learning
  • Technology to engage students at school and at home
  • Technology to support teachers

Course Investigations

  • In Milkweed Bugs students explore reproductive biology and population dynamics.
  • Sorting out Life introduces students to ecology.
  • In Mono Lake students investigate food webs
  • In Minihabitats students construct aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, then observe, describe, and monitor changes in biotic and abiotic factors.
  • In Producers, students investigate the effect of light on photosynthesis. Using wheat plants, students investigate producers in specific ecosystems, identify their roles, create models and measure the energy transferred from food .
  • In Following the Energy, students learn how energy provided by producers is used by all organisms and how food energy moves from one trophic level to another through feeding relationships.
  • In Population Size students explore factors that limit population size.
  • In Human Impact students explore the importance of biodiversity on the health of the ecosystem by investigating how humans have interacted with the ecosystem and put stresses on biodiversity.
  • In Ecoscenarios, students use knowledge of populations and ecosystems to research and analyze specific ecosystems in the United States.