Grade 7 Unit A: Curriculum Links | Print |

Unit A: Interactions and Ecosystems
(emphasis on Social and Environmental context)

Ecosystems develop and are maintained by natural processes and are impacted by human action. To foster an understanding of ecosystems, this unit develops students' awareness of their components and interactions, as well as natural cycles and processes of change. Building on this knowledge, students investigate human impacts, and engage in studies that involve environmental monitoring and research. By reflecting on their findings, students become aware of the intended and unintended consequences of human activity, and recognize the need for responsible decision making and action.

Focusing Questions:

How do human activities affect ecosystems?

What methods can we use to observe and monitor changes in ecosystems, and assess the impacts of our actions?

Key Concepts

The following concepts are developed in this unit and may also be addressed in other units at other
grade levels. The intended level and scope oftreatment is defined by the learner outcomes below.

  • interactions and interdependencies
  • species distribution
  • environmental monitoring
  • succession
  • environmental impacts
  • endangered species
  • producers, consumers, decomposers
  • extinction
  • nutrient cycles and energy flow
  • environmental management

STS and Knowledge Outcomes
Students will: Investigate and describe relationships between humans and their environments, and identify related issues and scientific questions
illustrate how life-supporting environments meet the needs of living things for nutrients, energy sources, moisture, suitable habitat, and exchange of gases
describe examples of interaction and interdependency within an ecosystem (e.g., identify
examples of dependency between species, and describe adaptations involved, identify changing relationships between humans and their environment, over time and in different cultures - as, for example, in aboriginal cultures.)
identify examples of human impacts on ecosystems, and investigate and analyze the link between these impacts and the human wants and needs that give rise to them (e.g., identify impacts of the use of plants and animals as sources offood, fibre and other materials; identify potential impacts of waste products on environments)
analyze personal and public decisions that involve consideration of environmental impacts, and identify needs for scientific knowledge that can inform those decisions

Students will: Trace and interpret the flow of energy and materials within an ecosystem
analyze an ecosystem to identify biotic and abiotic components, and describe interactions among them
analyze ecosystems to identify producers, consumers and decomposers, and describe how energy is supplied to and flows through a food web
describe and give examples of energy and nutrient storage in plants and animals
describe how matter is recycled in an ecosystem through interactions among plants, animals, fungi, bacteria and other microorganisms
interpret food webs, and predict the effects of changes to any part of a web
describe the process of cycling carbon and water through an ecosystem
identify mechanisms by which pollutants enter and move through the environment, and can become concentrated in some organisms (e.g., acid rain, mercury, PCBs, DDT)

Students will: Monitor local ecosystems and assess impacts of environmental factors on the growth, health and reproduction of organisms within those environments
investigate a variety of habitats and describe and interpret distribution patterns of living things found in those habitats (eg; describe and compare two areas within the school grounds - a relatively undisturbed site and a site that has been impacted by heavy use; describe and compare a wetland and a dryland area in local parkland)
investigate and interpret evidence of interaction and change (e.g., population fluctuations,
changes in weather, availability of food or introduction of new species into an ecosystem)
identify signs of ecological succession in local ecosystems (e.g., emergence of fireweed in
recently cut forest areas; replacement of poplar by spruce in maturing forests; reestablishment of native plants in unused farmland)

Students will: Describe the relationships among knowledge, decisions and actions in maintaining life-supporting environments
identify intended and unintended consequences of human activities within local and global environments (e.g., changes resulting from habitat loss, pest control or from introduction of new species; changes leading to species extinction)
describe and interpret examples of scientific investigations that serve to inform environmental decision making
illustrate, through examples, the limits of scientific and technological knowledge in making decisions about life-supporting environments (e.g., identify limits in scientific knowledge of the impact ofchanging land use on individual species; describe examples in which aboriginal knowledge-based on long-term observation-provides an alternate source of understanding)
analyze a local environmental issue or problem based on evidence from a variety of sources, and identify possible actions and consequences (e.g., analyze a local issue on the control of the beaver population in a nearby wetland, and identify possible consequences)