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Microtrash Madness!!

DCIs: LS1.B: Growth and Development of Organisms; LS2.B: Cycle of Matter and Energy Transfer in EcosystemsLS4.D: Biodiversity and Humans

SEPs: Asking questions (for science); Developing and using models; Planning and carrying out investigations; Analyzing and interpreting data; Using mathematics and computational thinking; Constructing explanations (for science);  Engaging in Argument from Evidence; Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating information

CCCs: Patterns; Cause and Effect: Mechanism and Explanation; Scale, Proportion, and Quantity; Systems and System Models; Energy and Matter: Flows, Cycles, and Conservation; Structure and Function; Stability and Change

CA EPs & Cs: 

Time: 1 Day, 45 Minutes (Game = 15-20 minutes whenever!)

Prep: Review Lesson Plan, prepare Microtrash game and impact cards, connect with FWS Park Ranger:

Anchoring Phenomena

Essential Question

What role does the California condor play in the California ecosystem, and how do changes in the ecosystem impact condors over time?



Warm Up: Condor chick nest cam clips

  • Have students write what they wonder on Post-It notes for the Question Board.


1. Intro (10 - 20 minutes)

  • Questions prepared during previous lesson, top 5 selected

  • Q & A with Park Ranger*


“You have learned a lot about California condors. You know about their role in the environment, and how they can be impacted by other species, including humans, and how they benefit and impact the environment, and us people as well. The metal Lead, from ammunition, plays a big role in that relationship for adult condors. California condor chicks, though, have another threat to be concerned about: Microtrash. Small bits of glass, metal, and plastic that condors may confuse for bone and shell that they like to feed their fast growing chicks. They find the bone using their sense of touch, not sight, so, let’s see what it’s like to be a condor parent searching for calcium in bones and shells for you newly hatched chick.”


2. Microtrash Game (25 - 60 minutes)

  • In groups of 4, have students sit around a prepared and covered game tub.

  • Explain the goal of the game (raise a condor chick to fledgling - learning to fly).

  • Pass out and explain the instructions and Impact Cards.

  • Let the students play!


3. Final Revisions to the Preliminary Model

  • Add in final revisions and chick/nesting information

  • Recreate the Preliminary Model on a blank worksheet for a Complete Model.

    • Preliminary, revised, and Complete Models should all be kept to show each Student's learning process.

*Park Ranger can be contacted to request support:

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