British Woodland Review - Adam Powell

Food Webs - British Woodlands

by Adam Powell, Abby College. January 2013

This superb program is a great credit to NewByte software. The ease of use, the interactivity, the detailed information and the excellent artistic design all come together to create a learning environment that works for both students and teachers alike.

Food chains and webs

The range of organisms included is varied and contains a good mixture of those that the students know well (or, even better, think that they know well) and those that are less familiar. In each case, the facts given are succinct and useful, helping students make the right choices. The ability to save and load food webs means that I have been able to set up a variety of webs of increasing challenge so that all of my students have learnt from them, building up from simple steps to complex ideas. The intuitive interface means that very little teaching time is wasted on instructions and students have particularly enjoyed the independence and the sense of achievement that they gain from completing each puzzle set; all the time subtly learning research skills and ecological vocabulary.

Modelling and teacher resources

The program is further developed by the modelling features it contains. These add depth to concept of a food web showing its changes over time and allow students to see the effect of human activities and climate change in a way that I’ve never seen successfully before. It is incredibly reactive and small adjustments can be shown to have large effects. Password-protected teacher modes allow students to be tested on their knowledge instead of discovering the answers and the clearly laid out student worksheets provide a coherent structure for the program but some care needs to be taken to ensure all students can access the instructions and questions as they are slightly wordy. Just as in the Evolution package, an experiments mode allows students to use the program, see the instructions and complete the questions from a single web page – impressive stuff.


Incredibly engaging, very comprehensive and from now on an indispensible tool for me in teaching food webs, food chains and population dynamics to all my students from age 11 to age 19.

PS. Everyone was amazed at how easy it was to restructure a food web and make it clearer by dragging the organisms around. Well done!