Food chains are relatively easy concepts for students to understand. They show linear, one-way relationships between organisms within a given ecosystem. Students learn to tell stories of food chains as connections between living things that need food. However, students may not know that arrows in food chains represent the flow of matter and energy to the next trophic level. Another potential challenge is that students are taught about food chains with land-based plants and animals as examples. The plant grows, a deer eats the plant, and a wolf eats the deer. But what does the food chain look like in the ocean? Additionally, feeding relationships between organisms are much more complicated than simple food chains, especially as shown in food webs.
Watch this video of 5th grade students in Laguna Niguel, California—a coastal community. The purpose of this classroom video is to see examples of ways students describe differences between food webs and food chains in the ocean.
For additional classroom context, video analysis, and reflection opportunities, read the Picture of Practice page for "Marine Food Webs" in the One Ocean Environmental Literacy Teacher Guide, page 59.