L.A.W. - Mystery of the Film Canisters

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In this activity students discuss what all living things need, and learn about the L.A.W. of Nature and what its components are. 


Students will be able to:

  •  Explain what L.A.W. meant and hypothesize how L.A.W differs for different organisms.


  • Discussion on what L.A.W. is and why they are important.

Age group: 4th-6th

Venue/s: Anywhere

Materials: 3 film canisters (2 black, one clear), one filled with water

Time: 15-20 minutes

Set up: Prepare film canisters with content


Activity Steps:

  • The instructor has three film canisters and they contain the L.A.W. of nature. 
  • Show the students the film canisters (one filled with air, one filled with water, and one clear one with light shining into it) and pass them around.
  • Ask the students to guess what the L.A.W. of nature is and how it is contained in these three film canisters
  • Introduce the L.A.W of Nature as the one thing EVERY living thing NEEDS to survive, and it is Light, Air, and Water!


  • Discuss that amounts of light, air, and water govern what can live in a particular habitat. Give examples of organisms and see if the students can hypothesize the amount of each L.A.W. it needs. Cactus? Sword Fern? How are the habitats of those plants different? Could they survive and/or thrive in each other’s ecosystem?
  • The L.A.W. of Nature is all the abiotic factors, the nonliving elements of an ecosystem, that control what living things will be able to survive there.


Possible Extensions:

  • Explore a new habitat (Harbor, Bog), discuss how the L.A.W.s can be found in different amounts, and find out what living things are there. 
  • Help the students begin to think of these different organisms as plants, animals, fungi and other stuff. Regroup and explain about producers, consumers, decomposers: fungus and bacteria. 
  • Create a made up organism in your journal and describe the amount of each L.A.W. the organism might need and why?
  • Play "Predator and Prey", but rename it "Where Are My Secrets of Life?" Instead of trying to grab prey, the students' task is to steal the instructor's "secrets of life" (the LAW canisters stored in an opaque container such as a binocular case). Once they've achieved their task and have successfully stolen the secrets of life, show them the canisters and continue with the LAW activity.

Relevant journal page/wiki pages