Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Teacher's Notes

Learning resource created by Leeds Museums and Galleries | The Discovery Centre

This learning resource provides a brief introduction to ecology, exploring the ways in which animals interact with each other and their environment, and the natural cycles that emerge from these networks. It aims to develop knowledge and understanding of food webs, ecology and ecosystems and the ways in which our actions, as humans, can influence the world around us.


Curriculum Links:

The resource covers the following areas of the Science curriculum:

  • KS2 Science: Living things and their habitats; Life cycles; how we classify animals
  • KS3 Science: Scientific attitudes; Relationships in an ecosystem; Variations between species
  • KS4 Science: Cause and effect; working scientifically; community ecology; ecosystem interactions


Aims of resource:

To introduce briefly the field of ecology, looking at how interactions of animals and plants create food webs and ecosystems and how knowledge of these natural cycles can influence our lifestyle choices as humans.


Learning objectives:

  • Knowledge of ecology and ecosystems and their importance to life on earth
  • Understanding of plant and animal interactions, and the interconnectedness of food webs
  • Skills to interpret ecological relationships and critically assess their wider impacts on the world around them


Discussion Ideas:

  • We’ve covered fishing - what might the feedback loop be from more people deciding to eat a plant-based or vegetarian diet?
  • Can you think of other food webs that exist?
    • What might foxes eat when there are fewer rabbits, and how might this affect your loop?
  • How might food webs and ecosystems be affected by external factors such as earthquakes or flooding?


Activity Ideas:

  • Build a classroom sized food web. Fix pictures of different plants and animals around the room and have a pupil stand by each one. Use string to connect the plants and animals together (pupils hold the string when they are connected, using connections identified by the pupils. You can also use abiotic factors, such as the sun, water etc.
    • Most plants and animals will have more than one connection.
    • Once the web is complete, choose one pupil to gently pull on their string. All those that feel the pull put their other hand up. These are the species that will be affected if something happens to the target species (either population increase or decrease). 
    • Then get all those with their hands up to gently pull on the strings they are holding and repeat. Soon, everyone will have their hands up showing how an imbalance in one species population can affect the whole of the ecosystem.
  • Research and learn about the different ways in which people try to live more sustainably, from what they eat to how they travel to where they live.