Energy Transfer Between Organisms

Driving or Multi-dimensional Question:

The Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery must maximize the growth of rainbow trout to meet the growing demand from anglers for catchable trout. How much feed will the trout need and at what temperature should the trout be raised to meet the delivery dates provided by the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency (TWRA)? 1. Students complete in order the activities below.
2. Students are divided into teams.
3. Each team of students is provided with a real problem being faced in the production of 9” trout at the hatchery.
a. Trout are to be released in December. As of October 1, they are 7.13”. What feeding protocol does your team recommend?
b. Trout are to be released in March. As of December 1, they are already 8.5”. What feeding protocol does your team recommend?
c. What can be done to increase the number of trout released in July?
d. Funding for the hatchery is in danger. How could your team rally support?

Unit Summary:

Student groups will be provided with a real problem faced by Tennessee’s Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery.

Problems will relate to the conversion of energy in fish food to the development of 9” trout. Students will then present solutions to the staff of the hatchery via video. The staff of the hatchery will then visit our school and discuss solutions with the student groups.

Example Questions:

1. Funding for the hatchery is in question. How will your team rally support?
2. The demand for trout in July is far above what was expected. How will your team react?
3. A parasite has eliminated all the trout expected to be released in June. How will your team respond?

Hook Event:

Culminating Event:



Science Standards:

BIO.LS2.4 Analyze data demonstrating the decrease in biomass observed in each successive trophic level. Construct an explanation considering the laws of conservation of energy and matter and represent this phenomenon in a mathematical model to describe the transfer of energy and matter between trophic levels.

Math Standards:

Algebra 1
A1.F.IF.B.3 For a function that models a relationship between two quantities, interpret key features of graphs and tables in terms of the quantities, and sketch graphs showing key features given a verbal description of the relationship.

A1.F.IF.B.4 Relate the domain of a function to its graph and, where applicable, to the quantitative relationship it describes.

A1.F.LE.B.4 Interpret the parameters in a linear or exponential function in terms of a context.

Algebra 2
A2.N.RN.A.1 Explain how the definition of the meaning of rational exponents follows from extending the properties of integer exponents to those values, allowing for a notation for radicals in terms of rational exponents.

ELA and Other Standards:

Created By: Kent Shepherd
Grade Level or Subject: Biology

Tennessee Academic Standards for Science Connection

Disciplinary Core Idea: The Transfer of Energy and Matter Between Trophic Levels
Science and Engineering Practices: Obtaining, Evaluating and Communicating Information
Cross Cutting Concepts: Energy and Matter

21st Century Skills

  • Critical Thinking
  • Communication Skills
  • Collaboration (Team Building)
  • Creativity and Innovation

Daily Activities

For more information on this lesson please see the Lesson Resources below

  Activities Resources and Materials
Activity One Introduction to the Fish Hatchery:
• Purpose
• Funding
• Careers

Dale Hollow Fish Hatchery Site:

List of Tennessee Hatcheries:

Activity Two Hatching Trout Eggs in a Classroom Tank Trout in the Classroom:
Activity Three 2 Liter Bottle Ecosystems:
• Nutrient Cycles
• Balance in an Ecosystem
Bottle Biology:
Activity Four How Much Food Do the Trout Need?
A complex problem using mathematics.

Technology Integration:

Local Business Partners

The Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery The Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery provides technical assistance and real world application to the project.
Find a Hatchery Near You Tennessee features nine fish hatcheries scattered around the state. Communicate with the one nearest to your school for assistance.
Friends of Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery Onsite management of our cold-water tanks in the Upper Cumberland area

Paul Boyce

Trout Unlimited Trout in the Classroom—Program dedicated to providing resources for classroom teachers across the country

Capstone Presentation:

Teams of students will create video presentations, including Google Slides, stating their recommended solution to the problem they were given. The hatchery staff will review the presentations and potentially join us for a debrief at our school.

Work with the nearest hatchery to develop problems for your student teams or use some of the ones in this plan.

Lesson Resources