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The Energy Cycle

Decay is part of the energy cycle.

Energy flows through an ecosystem. As one part of the system is growing, another is dying. Energy from one part of the system is needed by another.
This activity works best over a weekend. Do your setup on Friday, and record observations on Monday.
Materials
Three seal tight plastic bags.
Water
A piece of fruit (apple, banana, peach, or pear)
A slice of bread (any variety)
A slice of cheese (any variety)
Magnifying glass

Procedure
Slice the piece of fruit into smaller pieces and place them into one plastic bag. Sprinkle in a few drops of water. Seal the bag tightly.
Place the bread into a plastic bag. Sprinkle in a few drops of water. Seal the bag tightly.
Place the cheese into a plastic bag. Sprinkle in a few drops of water. Seal the bag tightly.
Record observations for each sample.
Leave the bags alone at room temperature, but not in direct sunlight, over the weekend.
On Monday, examine the bags without opening them. Record observations.

Conclusions
Each sealed bag represented a mini-ecosystem. Consider how the energy flowed within the system. Consider where the mold came from. What "fed" the mold?

Extension Ideas
Try a variety of food stuffs. What happens to citrus fruits?
Try extending the activity by also keeping three sample bags in the refrigerator over the weekend. Consider the importance of temperature in an ecosystem.


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