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Food Chain Food Chain
 Learning Laboratory in Environmental Science
"To say that I was impressed with Food Chain is an understatement. Not only does the program reinforce the concepts of the interconnectedness of natural systems, it also challenges students to think critically."

Dr. Dean Goodwin
AP Environmental Science Teacher
KUA, Meriden, NH

Learning is most exciting when there is opportunity to experience and discover what happens. Food Chain offers a practical way to conduct experiments and investigate a simple lake ecosystem. Students deepen their understanding of natural systems as they learn by doing. 

Biology and Environmental Science classes at all levels, from middle school through high school and introductory college courses, use Food Chain to explore a virtual lake ecosystem and conduct computer simulation-based experiments to test hypotheses.

Food Chain Teacher's Guide and Learning Lab CD 
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Food Chain Learning Lab Download Only 
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Students build a sound understanding of ecosystem relationships, including:
  • Interdependencies between the four trophic levels
  • Factors that affect population, births, deaths and carry capacity
  • Dynamics of oxygen, carbon dioxide, detritus, and nutrient levels

Inquiry-Based Approach

Using an inquiry-based approach to learning, Food Chain presents specific challenges for students to design their own experiments and test their hypotheses through simulation. Challenges pose questions like:
  • Which two species can survive in the lake by themselves for 90 days?
  • What is the minimum number of species needed to keep the sunfish alive?
  • How will various housing development proposals impact the lake ecosystem?
Outcomes of experiments must be explained even if they were not successful. Graphical output and data analysis help students rationalize their results and, if necessary, reformulate another hypothesis.
Food Chain Screenshot Click to Enlarge Screenshot 
Students are presented with challenges to formulate their own hypotheses.
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Hypotheses are tested using computer simulation.

Critical Thinking Skills

Food Chain challenges students to think critically as they hone their skills in applying the scientific method. Students are guided through the steps of formulating and testing hypotheses, interpreting data, analyzing graphs, and suggesting reasons for the results.

Systems Thinking concepts introduced while exploring a lake ecosystem are reinforced in an optional Generalizing section. Students are challenged to apply concepts like “feedback loops” and “unintended consequences” to issues in their own life.

Food Chain Click to Enlarge Screenshot Pop Up
Students develop data analysis skills as they explain results.

System Requirements

Microsoft Windows™ XP/Vista/7/8
256 MB RAM
200 MB hard disk space
Intel-based Mac
Mac OS 10.6 or above
256 MB RAM
200 MB hard disk space


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