What is Science?

3-1 Assessment
Essential Questions:
1. What is ecology and why is it important to learn about?
2. How is life organized into different levels of complexity?
1. List the six different levels of organization that
ecologists study, in order from smallest to largest.
2. Describe the three methods of ecological
• Observing: using senses to gather info
• Experimenting: testing hypotheses in a lab or
out in natural environment.
• Modeling: making simulations of ecological
phenomena (things that happen). Example:
computer models of climate change.
3. Identify two ways in which you interact every
day with each of the three parts of the
biosphere: land, water, and air.
• Land: walk on it, live on it, eat food grown on it,
bury garbage in it.
• Water: drink it, bathe in it, clean with it, eat food
grown with it.
• Air: breathe it, fly in it, activities depend on
weather, climate.
The burden of thirst:
The Burden of Thirst….
To understand what it’s like to carry 5 gallons of
water 5 miles……
• Carry a 5 gallon bucket of water to the back of
the room and back (45 ft. one way)
• Now do that 58 more times.
• Every day in 90° heat for the rest of your life….
4. Suppose you wanted to know if the water in a
certain stream is safe to drink. Which ecological
method(s) would you choose, and why?
• Experimenting. Do chemical tests on water
5. Give an example of an ecological phenomenon
that could be studied by modeling. Explain why
modeling would be useful.
• Climate change.
• Global weather patterns too big and
complicated to experiment with in lab.
How Do Climate Models Work?
• Climate model = computer program
mostly made up of mathematical
• Equations describe how
atmospheric temperature, air
pressure, winds, water vapor,
clouds, and precipitation all respond
to solar heating of the Earth’s
surface and atmosphere.
• Also included are equations
describing how “greenhouse” gases
(water vapor, clouds, carbon
dioxide, and methane) act as a
blanket over the atmosphere.
• Equation computations are made at
individual gridpoints on a threedimensional grid covering the Earth
You can make computer visualizations of how these processes
evolve as the model is run on the computer….
• This particular image shows
sea surface temperatures,
near-surface winds, and sea
ice concentrations in one of
the NCAR models at some
point during a run of the
model on a supercomputer.
• Note the model does not have
an actual physical shape in
the computer…it is just a long
series of computations
Alternative Assessment: In a table, provide examples of the ecological
levels where you live – individuals, populations, communities, and
ecosystems – that could be studied by ecologists.
Individual – a dead crow
Population – crow population in Mountlake Terrace
Community – crows, squirrels, trees
Ecosystem – local forest (living & non-living parts)
Biome – NW coniferous forest
What is ecology and why is it important
to learn about?
• Ecology = study of how living things interact
with their environments.
• Helps us understand how we are affecting our
• Helps us understand how all animals, plants,
etc. are interconnected and interdependent.
Coniferous Forest Biome
Grassland Biome
Desert Biome
Tundra Biome
World Biomes
deciduous forest
rain forest
desert scrub