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Ecosystems | Activity 4.1

Activity 4.1: Tiny Pool and Flux Game (30 min)

Students are introduced to a 2-pool model of ecosystems where inorganic carbon in the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide is distinguished from organic carbon in living things. All living and decomposing things are part of the organic carbon pool. Carbon moves into the organic pool through the process of photosynthesis and out of the organic pool through the process of cellular respiration (or combustion).

Students are introduced to the idea of flux – the rate at which a process occurs. In a simplified system with only 10 carbon atoms, students discover that when the two opposing flux rates are the same (balanced), the pool sizes remain the same.

Materials You Provide

  • Markers such as M&Ms or bingo chips – 10 per student (or pair of students)

Resources Provided

Setup

For Activity 4.1, open the 4.1 Tiny Pool and Flux Game PPT and project it. Prepare enough copies of the 4.1 Tiny Pool and Flux Worksheet for each student to have one. Prepare enough copies of the 4.1 Tiny Pool and Flux Game Placemat to have one.

Directions

1. Use the instructional model to show students where they are in the course of the unit.

Show slide 2 of the 4.1 Tiny Pool and Flux Game PPT.

Assessment

This activity introduces the idea of net flux, which will be important throughout the rest of the unit. Be sure students understand the ideas on the final slide before moving on to the next activity. Use the 4.1 Grading the Tiny Pool and Flux Worksheet to grade students' work.