Gnarly Nutrients

DCIs: LS2.D: LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems; LS2.B: Cycle of Matter and Energy Transfer in EcosystemsLS4.C: AdaptationPS1.B: Chemical Reactions

SEPs: Asking Questions (for Science); Analyzing and Interpreting Data; Constructing Explanations (for Science); Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

CCCs: Cause and Effect: Mechanism and Explanation; Scale, Proportion, and Quantity; Energy and Matter: Flows, Cycles, and Conservation; Structure and Function

CA EPs & Cs: 

Time: 1 Day, 40 minutes

Prep: Review Lesson Plan

Anchoring Phenomena

Essential Question

What role does the California condor play in the California ecosystem, and how do changes in the ecosystem impact condors over time?


Day 1

1. Engage/Warm Up

  • Deer Decomposition Video (graphic)

  • Have students watch the video once quietly.

  • Show the video a second time and have students See - Think - Wonder.

    • Ask the students to write questions that they have on Post-Its. Then, have students share their questions with a partner or small group so they can generate more questions. 

  • Have students share their best/favorite questions with the class and add them to the Question Board.


2. Active Reading

  •  National Geographic Encyclopedia: Scavengers

    • Have students number the paragraphs.

    • Reread the article and underline the definition of a scavenger. Have the students circle examples of scavengers.

    • Reread the last three paragraphs – how do humans impact scavengers?

  • Read this article together as a class. 


3. Class Discussion: Anchoring Phenomena Video

  • What is the role of condors as scavengers in the environment?

  • Have the students compare condors eating a dead deer in the Anchoring Phenomena video to the deer decomposition video.

    • Which is more efficient for cleaning up carrion?

    • Possible Discussion points: Nature’s clean-up crew, prepare nutrients for decomposers, remove dead things/carrion, and/or remove viruses and bacteria that could be dangerous to humans or other animals.

    • Difference between scavengers and decomposers? 

**Fun Fact: condors actually receive calories (energy) from the many microbes they consume. They use them as nutrients.


4. Revise Model - Have students revise or add to their models and label scavengers.


5.  Reflection:  Have students complete the following sentence frame about condors:  “I used to think _____ about California condors, and now I think _____...”


6. Optional - Homework/Extend