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Database Provider


Khan Academy


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Biology

Resource Type

  • Videos, 10 minutes, 25 seconds, CC, Subtitles

Regional Focus


Flow of Energy and Matter Through Ecosystems

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  • This animated video explains how energy is created and transferred between plants and animals through photosynthesis, consumption, and decomposition.
  • This video introduces students to how energy flows and how matter is recycled in an ecosystem and could be used to supplement content in an AP Biology or AP Environmental Science class.
Teaching Tips


  • This video uses simple animations and easy-to-understand explanations of complex processes.
  • Students and teachers can ask and answer questions on the online forum and keep track of their progress throughout the module by creating a free account.

Additional Prerequisites

  • This resource requires access to the internet.
  • Students should be familiar with concepts like energy, photosynthesis, metabolism, and ecosystems.
  • This video is part of a nine-part module on energy flow through ecosystems.


  • There is a list of vocabulary terms and digital text chapter available on this site, along with other videos and an interactive quiz that students can explore.
  • This video can be used in biology classes during lessons on food chains, food webs, and the carbon cycle and in chemistry classes during lessons about how molecules flow through the biosphere.
  • Have students consider how energy flows and how matter is recycled in ecosystems around them and in ecosystems they are a part of.
  • Have students investigate what factors may cause a disruption to the flows mentioned in the video and what impacts that can have on the ecosystem as a whole.
Scientist Notes
This video from Khan Academy is essentially explaining the law of conservation of mass. To the best of our knowledge of the physics of our universe, matter, nor energy, can be created or destroyed - it simply changes form. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • HS-ESS2-6 Develop a quantitative model to describe the cycling of carbon among the hydrosphere, atmosphere, geosphere, and biosphere.
    • LS1: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
      • HS-LS1-7 Use a model to illustrate that cellular respiration is a chemical process whereby the bonds of food molecules and oxygen molecules are broken and the bonds in new compounds are formed resulting in a net transfer of energy.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • HS-LS2-3 Construct and revise an explanation based on evidence for the cycling of matter and flow of energy in aerobic and anaerobic conditions.
      • HS-LS2-4 Use mathematical representations to support claims for the cycling of matter and flow of energy among organisms in an ecosystem.
      • HS-LS2-5 Develop a model to illustrate the role of photosynthesis and cellular respiration in the cycling of carbon among the biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere.
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