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The Wonder of Science


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Science, Biology

Resource Type

  • Videos, 8 minutes, 10 seconds, CC, Subtitles

Regional Focus



YouTube Video

Cycle of Matter and Energy Transfer in Ecosystems

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  • This video shows teachers how to teach about the cycles of matter and energy transfer in ecosystems at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. 
  • The video explains how photosynthesis and cellular respiration facilitate the cycling of energy and matter through organisms and the environment. 
  • Teachers will learn about models, such as food webs and ecological pyramids, that can help students conceptualize the flow of matter throughout ecosystems. 
Teaching Tips


  • This video gives helpful examples for teaching each concept.
  • This video could be used as a review for a high school ecology unit.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The video mentions photosynthesis, cellular respiration, and energy transfer in an ecosystem, but it does not explain the concepts.


  • Lower elementary science teachers could review the concepts of organisms and their environments by having students draw an ecosystem with the organisms in one color and the environment in a different color.
  • Middle school students could choose an animal and research how that animal fits into a food web.
  • Other resources on this topic include this video on using nature to restore ecosystems, this Hot Mess video on the importance of soil, and this lesson plan and activity on climate change and biodiversity.

Scientist Notes
This video shows matter and energy transfer in an ecosystem, giving clear examples of the interactions. Although at 1:49 minutes, there is a misconception about the term "living matter", please note that all matter is abiotic and hence it is misleading to say that matter has life. Other illustrations given in the resource are accurate and thus, this resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Science
    • LS2: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics Within Ecosystems
      • 5-LS2-1. Develop a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment.
      • MS-LS2-3. Develop a model to describe the cycling of matter and flow of energy among living and nonliving parts of an ecosystem.
      • HS-LS2-3. Construct and revise an explanation based on evidence for the cycling of matter and flow of energy in aerobic and anaerobic conditions.
      • HS-LS2-5. Develop a model to illustrate the role of photosynthesis and cellular respiration in the cycling of carbon among the biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere.
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