Grade 4

Through the study of different ecosystems, students build an understanding of the relationships between organisms and their environments. The Environments Module focuses on the concepts that organisms need energy and matter to live and grow, and that living organisms depend on one another and on their environment for their survival and the survival of populations.

Investigation 1: Environmental Factors
Students observe and describe the living and nonliving components (biotic and abiotic factors) in terrestrial environments. They set up a mealworm environment at two temperatures and observe the life cycle over time. Students investigate how isopods respond to environmental factors such as water and light, and set up an isopod environment. Students investigate small animals that live in leaf litter and study their structures.
Investigation 2: Ecosystems
Students set up a freshwater aquarium with different kinds of fish, plants, and other organisms. Students monitor the environmental factors in the system and look for feeding interactions among the populations. They learn about the role of producers, consumers, and decomposers in food chains and food webs in terrestrial and aquatic systems, including a marine ecosystem. Through an outdoor simulation, students learn about how food affects a population's home range. Students explore how animals receive information from their environment through their sensory system and use the information to guide their actions.
Investigation 3: Brine Shrimp Hatching
Students conduct a controlled experiment to determine which of four salt concentrations allow brine shrimp eggs to hatch, then determine a range of tolerance and optimum conditions for brine shrimp hatching. Through an outdoor simulation, students look at variation in a population and consider how variation among individuals contributes to survival of a population.
Investigation 4: Range of Tolerance
Students set up and monitor experiments to determine the range of tolerance of water on the germination of four kinds of seeds: corn, pea, barley, and radish. In a second experiment, students test the effect of salinity on these seeds. Students study local plants by mapping schoolyard plants, and relating plant distribution to environmental factors. They also look at plant adaptations.