Why should we care about zooplankton?

Lesson overview

In this lesson, students learn the importance of zooplankton as primary consumers in the community and as part of the marine biological pump in the global carbon cycle. These zooplankton account for a staggering percentage of the Earth’s biomass, and yet because they are microscopic and in the ocean, we hardly give them much thought.

Learning outcomes

  • Say what zooplankton are (Foundation)
  • Define and use a variety of ecological terms correctly to describe zooplankton (Developing)
  • Draw food chains and pyramids of numbers with zooplankton (Developing)
  • Explain the importance of zooplankton in a community (Competent)
  • Explain the importance of zooplankton in the marine carbon cycle (Expert)

Lesson steps

  1. Brief from Ceri Lewis (10 mins)
    Use the slides to set the context and share the learning outcomes. Engage students using the slides with the ‘Animals in numbers’ quiz.
  2. Ecological terms (15 mins)
    Using the slides, students recap a variety of key ecological terms and diagrams. Assess student knowledge using the slide based ‘Red, Yellow, Green’ game.
  3. Zooplankton in food webs and the carbon cycle (20 mins)
    Use the video 'Investigating the impact of microplastics' to stimulate students’ ideas about the importance of zooplankton.
    Using Student Sheet 1a, students develop their understanding of food webs and the carbon cycle.
  4. Exam-style question (10 mins)
    Students demonstrate their learning by answering a long answer question from the slide.
  5. Self-reflection (5 mins)
    Using slides, students consider how alternative ‘teachers’ may have delivered the lesson.

Flip it

Ask students to watch the video 'Investigating the impact of microplastics' prior to the lesson and answer the questions on one of the video worksheets.