Activity Introduction

Quick summary: In this lesson, students will consider how competition for resources influences the ecological role an organism plays in an ecosystem. They will then research a subspecies and explore its role in an ecosystem before attempting to persuade the class that their subspecies, and its role, makes it the most important in the ecosystem.

Learning intentions: 

  • Students understand that all organisms fulfil a role in a sustainable ecosystem
  • Students understand the different types of roles in an ecosystem and how they interact with other organisms.

21st century skills: 

CommunicatingCreative ThinkingCritical ThinkingDigital LiteracySocial SkillsTeam Work

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 9 Science

  • Ecosystems consist of communities of interdependent organisms and abiotic components of the environment; matter and energy flow through these systems (ACSSU176)
  • Communicate scientific ideas and information for a particular purpose, including constructing evidence-based arguments and using appropriate scientific language, conventions and representations (ACSIS174)

Syllabus outcomes: SC5-9WS, SC5-14LW.

General capabilities: Literacy, Creative and Critical Thinking.

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability OI.2.

Relevant parts of Year 9 achievement standards: Students analyse how biological systems function and respond to external changes with reference to interdependencies, energy transfers and flows of matter. They evaluate others’ methods and explanations from a scientific perspective and use appropriate language and representations when communicating their findings and ideas to specific audiences.

Topic: STEM, Sustainability, Biodiversity.

This lesson is part of the wider unit of work Backyard Bush Blitz – Year 9.

Time required: 70 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – facilitate class discussion.

Resources required: 

  • Device capable of presenting a video to the class
  • Bush Blitz Information Sheet (one copy, single-sided)
  • Ecosystem Interaction Matching Activity (one copy for the whole class or one per small group – cut out individual words and definitions and place in an envelope or small tub)
  • Student devices with internet capability
  • Student Worksheets – one copy per student.

Keywords: Ecosystems, interactions, competition, bush blitz, predator, prey, parasites, plague, animals.

Bush Blitz is Australia’s largest nature discovery program, with the Bush Blitz TeachLive component delivered by Earthwatch Australia, who kindly provided the images in these lessons. Thank you to the Ian Potter Foundation, John T Reid Charitable Trusts and The Myer Foundation for generously supporting the development of these lessons.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions: Students will…

  • … understand that all organisms fulfil a role in a sustainable ecosystem
  • … understand the different types of roles in an ecosystem and how they interact with other organisms.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • … match terms with definitions
  • … conduct and report on research
  • … work collaboratively
  • ... participate in group and class discussions
  • … use facts and persuasive language to present an argument
  • … evaluate the arguments of other groups.

Teacher content information: It is estimated there are 435,000-510,000 undiscovered species in Australia. 45% of the land and over 90% of our marine areas have never been comprehensively surveyed by scientists, leaving a massive gap in our knowledge of Australia’s biodiversity and the impacts of land use. Bush Blitz is a project aiming to categorise as many plant and animal species as possible to protect our biodiversity by fostering sustainable land management. It doe

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Student Worksheet

Thought Starter: Why is the animal kingdom so diverse?

Important Jobs in an Ecosystem

1. Work in pairs to answer the following questions:

What happens when everyone wants the same resource? For example, if everyone in your city only ate oranges, and there wasn’t enough for everyone, what would happen?

Building from that, what do you think would happen if all animals ate the same thing?

2. Still working in your pairs, choose one event to research and answer the questions:

  • East Africa locust swarm 2020
  • Australian mouse plague 1993

i. Describe the animal involved and the resource for which they were competing.

ii. Explain what happened to the resource during this competition.

iii. Find evidence for, or predict, what happened to the ecosystem over time due to this event.

Employee of the Week Research

You are a scientist working at a zoo. You and your colleagues are very competitive and each wants their own favourite animal to be recognised as having the most imp

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