Biosphere 2

Description:  Biosphere 2 was created in the 1990's to model all the elements of Biosphere 1 (The Earth). Plants in the biosphere produced oxygen and food for the inhabitants. The carbon dioxide released during respiration was taken in by the plants cycling the matter with energy from the Sun. In this experiment oxygen levels steadily fell to dangerous levels and oxygen eventually had to be added to the biosphere. This large-scale phenomenon continues to be owned and run by the University of Arizona. The mystery of missing oxygen could be used as a phenomenon in a unit on matter cycling and energy flow. Students can even create biospheres of their own and monitor life over time.

Web Resource:  Biosphere 2 - Wikipedia


Farming Fish with Vegetables

Description:  Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture (i.e. fish farming) with hydroponics (i.e. growing plants in water). Matter cycles in the system and is driven by energy flow from light. Waste from the fish is used as fertilizer for the plants which in turn feeds the fish. Excess plants and fish can be harvested as food for humans.

Web Resources: How to DIY Aquaponics,  Aquaponics - Wikipedia


12 Years in a Sealed Ecosphere

Description:  The Ecosphere in this video has been sealed in a glass container for 12 years. No air or food was able to enter or leave the Ecosphere during this entire time yet the shrimp are all still alive. This phenomenon can be used in the elementary science classroom to introduce plant and animal needs. It can be used in middle and high school to address matter cycling and energy flow.

Web Resources: Ecosphere (aquarium) on WikipediaEcospheres


Biological Weathering

Description:  The roots of certain trees are able to break rocks over time.  This is one type of biological weathering that can be seen around the world.  Rocks can also be broken down by bacteria, algae, lichen, and small animals.  Weathering of a sidewalk or the headstones in a cemetery are great places to find this phenomenon.  

Web Resources:  The Geological Society

Biological weathering, Harrison Rocks - geograph.org.uk

Biological weathering, Harrison Rocks - geograph.org.uk