Rotten Log Lab - Lesson Plan

Lesson Plan

  1. It’s pretty useless trying to hold the kids attention when there are moss and mushroom covered logs on the tables. Thus, give the students the question sheet right away and let them go once you read the rules:
  2. Use any of the tools provided.
  3. Don’t harm any organisms.
  4. You may carefully break small pieces of the log apart but NO SMASHING. Keep all the pieces of the log in the basin, NOT all over the table or the floor.
  5. Have students answer the questions in a lab notebook or on a separate sheet of paper. The questions are on the student Rotten Log Questions download but are also listed again here for your convenience:
  • List as many organisms in the ecosystem as you can find. For each organism, draw a picture and label it with a name that describes the organism like “light-brown, long bodied ant-like thing” or “2 cm-long black beetle”. More things are living than you might think…
  • List as many non-living parts of the environment as you can find. There is more than just wood – think about solids, liquids AND gases!
  • Which of the things you just listed are part of the log community?
  • Which of the things you just listed are part of the log ecosystem?
  • What is the difference between a community and an ecosystem?
  • Find evidence about the food webs that make up the community. Do you see any organisms eating? Do you see any “poop” that gives a hint about what the organisms have been eating? Draw as much of the food web as you can.
  • Describe one organism-organism interaction that you observe.
  • Describe one organism-environment interaction that you observe.
  • How will this lab impact the populations of organisms in your log? Pick one organism and describe how the population of this species will be affected by our investigation.
  • Is this ecosystem sustainable? Why or why not? Use your observations to support your idea.
  • If you have a protozoa viewing station set up, invite groups one at a time to come visit you at the microscope to see the protozoa.
  • Reserve plenty of time to clean up.