smart AGRICULTURE targets learning in Science 14 Unit D: Energy Flow in Global Systems.

Find student learning sources and competency-based activities by scrolling down to the smart AGRICULTURE banner on the LEARN webpage. This topic can be implemented through a project-based approach or by implementing the learning sources in each carousel slide as one-to-two class activities. The specific learning outcomes listed below are supported in smart AGRICULTURE. Find a correlation of relevant outcomes to each activity in the Project and Activity Teaching Guide.



1. Describe how the flow of matter in the biosphere is cyclical along characteristic pathways and can be disrupted by human activity

  • Explain the role of living systems in the cycling of matter in the biosphere (e.g., food chains)
  • Assess the costs and benefits of technological developments that produce materials the ecosystem cannot recycle (e.g., disposable plastics, heavy metals)
  • Explain how biodegradable materials reduce the impact of human-made products on the environment
  • Compare the recycling of matter by society with the natural cycling of matter through ecosystems
  • Assess the impact of modern agricultural technology on the natural pathways of recycling matter
  • Identify and assess the needs and interests of society that have led to technologies with unforeseen environmental consequences (e.g., fishing technologies that result in harvesting more than the rate of reproduction, use of pesticides such as DDT, impact of driving a car on atmospheric compositions)

2. Analyze a local ecosystem in terms of its biotic and abiotic components, and describe factors of the equilibrium

  • Describe how various abiotic factors influence biodiversity in an ecosystem (e.g., climate, substrate, temperature, elevation)
  • Explain how various factors influence the size of populations; i.e., immigration and emigration, birth and death rates, food supply, predation, disease, reproductive rate, number of offspring produced, and climate change
  • Describe the relationship between land use practices and altering ecosystems (e.g., swamp drainage, slash and burn forestry, agriculture)
  • Trace the development of a technological application that has altered an ecosystem (e.g., power generation, fishing, logging, oil and gas exploration, agricultural practices)

Appreciate that scientific understanding evolves from the interaction of ideas involving people with different views and backgrounds (e.g., consider scientific, technological, economic, cultural, political and environmental factors when formulating conclusions, solving problems or making decisions on a Science, Technology and Society issue)

Seek and apply evidence when evaluating alternative approaches to investigations, problems and issues (e.g., insist on evidence before accepting a new idea or explanation for waste reduction; insist that the critical assumptions behind any line of reasoning be made explicit, so that the validity of the position taken can be judged)

Work collaboratively in planning and carrying out investigations, as well as in generating and evaluating ideas (e.g., be attentive when others speak; suspend personal views when evaluating suggestions made by a group; be nonjudgemental in the discussion of ideas and plans)

Demonstrate sensitivity and responsibility in pursuing a balance between the needs of humans and a sustainable environment (e.g., examine their personal role in the preservation of the environment; make personal decisions based on feelings of responsibility toward less privileged parts of the global community and toward future generations; participate in the social and political systems that influence environmental policy in their community)



Ask questions about relationships between and among observable variables, and plan investigations to address those questions

  • Identify questions to investigate arising from practical problems and issues (e.g., develop questions related to recycling, ozone depletion or introduction of exotic species)
  • Define questions and problems to facilitate investigation (e.g., develop questions to guide investigations on composting, recycling, impact of farming practices on local ecosystems)
  • Design an experiment; and identify the manipulated, responding and controlled variables (e.g., investigate the amount of waste materials produced by a school or family on a daily or weekly basis)
  • Select appropriate methods and tools for collecting data and information to solve problems (e.g., plan and conduct a search for environmental projects, using a wide variety of electronic sources)

Conduct investigations into the relationships between and among observations, and gather and record qualitative and quantitative data

  • Carry out procedures, controlling the major variables (e.g., perform quantitative experiments to demonstrate that cellular respiration releases some thermal energy)
  • Estimate measurements (e.g., collect quantitative data that demonstrate how closed populations of organisms—hay infusions, pond water samples, fruit flies, brine shrimp—change over time; present the data in tables, graphs or charts)
  • Organize data, using a format that is appropriate to the task or experiment (e.g., analyze the biotic and abiotic data collected in an ecosystem study, and present this information in a written or graphic format or in an oral presentation to peers)
  • Select and integrate information from various print and electronic sources (e.g., research the influence of a specific living organism—nitrogen bacteria, sulfur bacteria, sea birds, mollusks— on the cycling of matter through the biosphere, and communicate information in the form of a clearly written report; create a database or use spreadsheets to convey information on populations)

Analyze qualitative and quantitative data, and develop and assess possible explanations

  • Compile and display data, by hand or computer, in a variety of formats, including diagrams, flow charts, tables, bar graphs, line graphs and scatterplots (e.g., analyze population growth curve graphs; communicate information on the flow of energy through the biosphere, using a diagram or flow chart)
  • State a conclusion, based on experimental data; and explain how evidence gathered supports or refutes an initial idea (e.g., explain, on the basis of experimental evidence, how energy is stored in the form of starch in photosynthetic organisms)
  • Identify and evaluate potential applications of findings (e.g., experimentally determine the biodegradability of various forms of organic matter, and relate findings to composting and recycling)
  • Identify new questions and problems that arise from what was learned (e.g., “Should there be more controls on bringing live animals and plants to Canada from the United States and other countries?”, “How can we reduce the amount of household wastes?”)

Work collaboratively on problems; and use appropriate language and formats to communicate ideas, procedures and results

  • Communicate questions, ideas, intentions, plans and results, using lists, notes in point form, sentences, data tables, graphs, drawings, oral language and other means (e.g., represent the movement of matter and energy in an ecosystem, using food chains, webs or pyramids, and communicate this information in the form of a graphic illustration; describe the biogeochemical cycles of carbon, nitrogen or oxygen, and communicate this information in clearly labelled charts, models or diagrams)
  • Work cooperatively with team members to develop and carry out a plan, and troubleshoot problems as they arise (e.g., perform a field study on an aquatic or terrestrial ecosystem)
  • Defend a given position on an issue or problem, based on their findings (e.g., investigate reduction of household wastes, or investigate ways to prevent the introduction of exotic species into Alberta or Canada)

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