Students create webs that illustrate their thinking about seasonal physical and biological changes caused by changes in sunlight. They begin to grasp the central role of sunlight in living systems.
Laying the Groundwork
1. Ask students to review their list and discuss what kinds of impact each physical change (e.g., ice melting, more daylight hours, temperatures warming) might have on living things — particularly on their ability to make or get food. Consider introducing or reviewing the concept of food chains. You might, for instance, ask, What do plants need to grow and thrive (e.g., sun, warmth, water)? As they grow, what does it mean for animals that depend on plants? For animals that eat other animals?
2. As the class discusses ideas, use a large piece of paper to begin to create a Web to illustrate them; use the sun as a starting or center point (see the example, right). Help students explore connections between sunlight and changes in living things as spring emerges.
3. As spring progresses, read updates from Journey North and keep a running list of new connections students discover between sunlight and spring events. Have them use another marker color to add these to their Web. How can their findings help answer some of their initial questions? What new ones do they have?
1. Where and how would you fit animal migration into our web?
2. Did any of the new connections we made during the season surprise you? Why?
3. How do seasonal changes in photoperiod (daylength) and the sun's intensity affect your animal's food web?
Science as Inquiry
Develop descriptions, explanations, predictions, and models using evidence. (5-8)
For ecosystems, the major source of energy is sunlight. Energy entering ecosystems as sunlight is transferred by producers into chemical energy through photosynthesis. That energy then passes from organism to organism in food webs. (5-8)
Earth and Space Science
The sun is the major source of energy for phenomena on the earth's surface, such as growth of plants, winds, ocean currents, and the water cycle. Seasons result from variations in the amount of sun's energy hitting the surface, due to the tilt of the earth's rotation on its axis and the length of the day. (5-8)