Ecosystem in a Bottle

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Learning Outcomes

By the end of this activity, learners will:
  • Assist in building or observe a pre-made biosphere bottle
  • Understand the connection between the ecosystem of the bottle and the ecosystem of the Earth
  • Define ecosystem
  • Gain an appreciation of our Earth and the complexity of our planet
  • Begin to understand how changes made in one are of a closed system may have consequences in another area
  • Understand major ecological systems such as climate, water, carbon and nitrogen and their importance in a balanced environment

Curriculum Connections

Grade 7 Science: Interactions and Ecosystems
  • STS 1 Investigate and describe relationships between humans and their environments, and identify related issues and scientific questions
  • Illustrate how life-supporting environments meet the needs of living things for nutrients, energy sources, moisture, suitable habitat, and exchange of gases

Length of Activity

1.5 hours to build 
3 weeks to observe

Materials List

  • Ecosystem in a Bottle Backgrounder
  • Ecosystem in a Bottle Learner Worksheet
  • Ecosystem in a Bottle Learner Worksheet Answer Key
  • One large, fully-enclosed glass or plastic container
  • Pea-sized gravel (3L)
  • Activated charcoal (1L)
  • Sterilized potting soil (4-6 L)
  • Natural twigs and tree bark
  • 3 or 4 humidity-loving pants
  • Mister or sprayer
  • Long wooden dowel
  • Newspaper
  • Large mouth funnel

Online Lesson Format