Activity 6
All Tangled Up
All organisms in an ecosystem depend on
each other to survive; when one species
starts to decline, multiple species may be
affected because of the interconnectedness
of life within the system. A food web shows
how energy moves through a community
and the relationships among the different
food chains. Scientists monitor species in
an ecosystem to make sure everything is in
You’ll Need
hou rs
• notecards
• string or y
ture Nurture
• optional:
For each sm
• clear tape
ll group
• markers
e paper
• plain whit
• colored pa
Create a list of plants or animals within
an ecosystem in your area (woodland or
temperate forest, wetland, freshwater lake
or pond, ocean, rain forest, desert, prairie).
Make sure to include producers, herbivores,
carnivores, omnivores, decomposers, and
scavengers in your list.
Collect a variety of materials for girls to use
in part two including; art supplies, poster
paper and technology for recording video
and audio4 (if available).
Part 1: Make a Food Web
Here’s how:
1. Discuss ecosystems. Ask girls if they know
what an ecosystem is. [A community of living
(plants, animals, and microbes) and nonliving
(air, water, and soil) components that interact.]
Choose an ecosystem the girls are familiar with
and create a list of all the living things in it.
Use the list you generated in the Smart Start to
guide the discussion.
Make sure your list
has the same number of living
things as there are girls in the group.
If your group is large you might want to
split it into smaller groups.
1-7 See
SciGirls Seven strategies on page 3.
All Tangled Up
2. Create a food web. Have the girls draw each
living thing you brainstormed on a separate
notecard. Add the card “sun” to your collection,
as the sun is the energy source for plants and
the nexus for your food web. Each girl should
pick a card and stand in a circle around the girl
with the sun card. Using a ball of yarn, begin
the first food chain at the sun:
The sun passes the yarn to a plant of their
The plant then passes it to an animal
(herbivore/omnivore) that consumes that
The animal passes it to another animal
(carnivore/omnivore) that is their predator.
Build the chain, ending at the top
predator, then cut the string.
multiple food chains to form an interactive
food web 6 .
Start again at the sun. Create multiple
food chains until every girl is holding at
least one string. (See diagram below.)
3. Draw conclusions. Now have the girls
apply their knowledge of ecosystems to create
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Visit for videos and games!
All Tangled Up
Part 2: SciGirls Challenge
6. Share. Each group should share its
presentation. Invite community members and
families to see the presentations.
4. Brainstorm. In a large group brainstorm
some environmental problems (local, regional,
or national) that can affect the food web in
an ecosystem. [For example, leaves and grass
clippings in storm drains flow to bodies of
water, causing algae blooms, which reduce the
oxygen content in the water, harming aquatic
wildlife.] Present the SciGirls Challenge:
In small groups, choose a problem that is
affecting the environment and create a
presentation to share the information with
the public. 2 The presentation can be a play,
poem, story, song, poster, or public service
announcement. Get creative! 4
Watch Holly and the SciGirls collect data in
the kelp forests of California on the SciGirls
Participate DVD. (Select Terrific Pacific:
Mentor Moment.)7
Mentor Moment
Holly Fletcher helps create and run citizen
science programs on the beach, in the
backcountry, and on boats at Crystal Cove
Watch the SciGirls create and
edit a video encouraging people
to care for the ocean on the SciGirls
Participate DVD. (Select Terrific Pacific:
Interviewing & Editing.)
Alliance in California. She has been prone to
seasickness since she was a kid but didn't let
that stop her from studying marine biology and
getting her sea legs. Holly enjoys adventure and
has been bridge jumping in Ecuador, skydiving
5. Create. Give the girls time to plan, create,
and then practice presenting their information.
Each presentation should include examples
of how the problem affects the environment
(including people) and what individuals can do
to help solve the problem. 3
in California,
in New
Zealand and
with sharks
in California,
POINTER: Create a time limit for
and Fiji.
each presentation. Most Public Service
Announcements are short (less than 2
minutes long).
1-7 See
SciGirls Seven strategies on page 3.
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