This unit on thermal energy transfer begins with students testing whether a new plastic cup sold by a store keeps a drink colder for longer compared to the regular plastic cup that comes free with the drink. Students find that the drink in the regular cup warms up more than the drink in the special cup. This prompts students to identify features of the cups that are different, such as the lid, walls, and hole for the straw, that might explain why one drink warms up more than the other.
Students investigate the different cup features they conjecture are important to explaining the phenomenon, starting with the lid. They model how matter can enter or exit the cup via evaporation However, they find that in a completely closed system, the liquid inside the cup still changes temperature. This motivates the need to trace the transfer of energy into the drink as it warms up. Through a series of lab investigations and simulations, students find that there are two ways to transfer energy into the drink: (1) the absorption of light and (2) thermal energy from the warmer air around the drink. They are then challenged to design their own drink container that can perform as well as the store-bought container, following a set of design criteria and constraints.
This unit builds toward the following NGSS Performance Expectations (PEs) as described in the OpenSciEd Scope & Sequence: MS-PS1-4*, MS-PS3-3, MS-PS3-4, MS-PS3-5, MS-PS4-2*, MS-ETS1-4. The OpenSciEd units are designed for hands-on learning and therefore materials are necessary to teach the unit. These materials can be purchased as science kits or assembled using the kit material list.
The goals of OpenSciEd are to ensure any science teacher, anywhere, can access and download freely available, high quality, locally adaptable full-course materials. REMOTE LEARNING GUIDE FOR THIS UNIT NOW AVAILABLE!
This unit on weather, climate, and water cycling is broken into four separate lesson sets. In the first two lesson sets, students explain small-scale storms. In the third and fourth lesson sets, students explain mesoscale weather systems and climate-level patterns of precipitation. Each of these two parts of the unit is grounded in a different anchoring phenomenon.
To pique students’ curiosity and anchor the learning for the unit in the visible and concrete, students start with an experience of observing and analyzing a bath bomb as it fizzes and eventually disappears in the water. Their observations and questions about what is going on drive learning that digs into a series of related phenomena as students iterate and improve their models depicting what happens during chemical reactions. By the end of the unit, students have a firm grasp on how to model simple molecules, know what to look for to determine if chemical reactions have occurred, and apply their knowledge to chemical reactions to show how mass is conserved when atoms are rearranged.
This unit on metabolic reactions in the human body starts out with students exploring a real case study of a middle-school girl named M’Kenna, who reported some alarming symptoms to her doctor. Her symptoms included an inability to concentrate, headaches, stomach issues when she eats, and a lack of energy for everyday activities and sports that she used to play regularly. She also reported noticeable weight loss over the past few months, in spite of consuming what appeared to be a healthy diet. Her case sparks questions and ideas for investigations around trying to figure out which pathways and processes in M’Kenna’s body might be functioning differently than a healthy system and why.
Students investigate data specific to M’Kenna’s case in the form of doctor’s notes, endoscopy images and reports, growth charts, and micrographs. They also draw from their results from laboratory experiments on the chemical changes involving the processing of food and from digital interactives to explore how food is transported, transformed, stored, and used across different body systems in all people. Through this work of figuring out what is causing M’Kenna’s symptoms, the class discovers what happens to the food we eat after it enters our bodies and how M’Kenna’s different symptoms are connected.
This unit builds towards the following NGSS Performance Expectations (PEs) as described in the OpenSciEd Scope & Sequence: MS-LS1-3, MS-LS1-5, MS-LS1-7, MS-PS1-1, MS-PS1-2. The OpenSciEd units are designed for hands-on learning, and therefore materials are necessary to teach the unit. These materials can be purchased as science kits or assembled using the kit material list.
Additional Unit InformationNext Generation Science Standards Addressed in this UnitPerformance ExpectationsThis unit builds toward the following NGSS Performance Expectations (PEs):
Students figure out that they can trace all food back to plants, including processed and synthetic food. They obtain and communicate information to explain how matter gets from living things that have died back into the system through processes done by decomposers. Students finally explain that the pieces of their food are constantly recycled between living and nonliving parts of a system.
Oh, no! I’ve dropped my phone! Most of us have experienced the panic of watching our phones slip out of our hands and fall to the floor. We’ve experienced the relief of picking up an undamaged phone and the frustration of the shattered screen. This common experience anchors learning in the Contact Forces unit as students explore a variety of phenomena to figure out, “Why do things sometimes get damaged when they hit each other?”
Student questions about the factors that result in a shattered cell phone screen lead them to investigate what is really happening to any object during a collision. They make their thinking visible with free-body diagrams, mathematical models, and system models to explain the effects of relative forces, mass, speed, and energy in collisions. Students then use what they have learned about collisions to engineer something that will protect a fragile object from damage in a collision. They investigate which materials to use, gather design input from stakeholders to refine the criteria and constraints, develop micro and macro models of how their solution is working, and optimize their solution based on data from investigations. Finally, students apply what they have learned from the investigation and design to a related design problem.
In this unit, students develop ideas related to how sounds are produced, how they travel through media, and how they affect objects at a distance. Their investigations are motivated by trying to account for a perplexing anchoring phenomenon — a truck is playing loud music in a parking lot and the windows of a building across the parking lot visibly shake in response to the music.
They make observations of sound sources to revisit the K–5 idea that objects vibrate when they make sounds. They figure out that patterns of differences in those vibrations are tied to differences in characteristics of the sounds being made. They gather data on how objects vibrate when making different sounds to characterize how a vibrating object’s motion is tied to the loudness and pitch of the sounds they make. Students also conduct experiments to support the idea that sound needs matter to travel through, and they will use models and simulations to explain how sound travels through matter at the particle level.
This unit builds toward the following NGSS Performance Expectations (PEs) as described in the OpenSciEd Scope & Sequence: MS-PS4-1, MS-PS4-2. The OpenSciEd units are designed for hands-on learning and therefore materials are necessary to teach the unit. These materials can be purchased as science kits or assembled using the kit material list.
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Students connect polynomial arithmetic to computations with whole numbers and integers. Students learn that the arithmetic of rational expressions is governed by the same rules as the arithmetic of rational numbers. This unit helps students see connections between solutions to polynomial equations, zeros of polynomials, and graphs of polynomial functions. Polynomial equations are solved over the set of complex numbers, leading to a beginning understanding of the fundamental theorem of algebra. Application and modeling problems connect multiple representations and include both real world and purely mathematical situations.
Module 2 builds on students previous work with units and with functions from Algebra I, and with trigonometric ratios and circles from high school Geometry. The heart of the module is the study of precise definitions of sine and cosine (as well as tangent and the co-functions) using transformational geometry from high school Geometry. This precision leads to a discussion of a mathematically natural unit of rotational measure, a radian, and students begin to build fluency with the values of the trigonometric functions in terms of radians. Students graph sinusoidal and other trigonometric functions, and use the graphs to help in modeling and discovering properties of trigonometric functions. The study of the properties culminates in the proof of the Pythagorean identity and other trigonometric identities.
In this module, students synthesize and generalize what they have learned about a variety of function families. They extend the domain of exponential functions to the entire real line (N-RN.A.1) and then extend their work with these functions to include solving exponential equations with logarithms (F-LE.A.4). They explore (with appropriate tools) the effects of transformations on graphs of exponential and logarithmic functions. They notice that the transformations on a graph of a logarithmic function relate to the logarithmic properties (F-BF.B.3). Students identify appropriate types of functions to model a situation. They adjust parameters to improve the model, and they compare models by analyzing appropriateness of fit and making judgments about the domain over which a model is a good fit. The description of modeling as, the process of choosing and using mathematics and statistics to analyze empirical situations, to understand them better, and to make decisions, is at the heart of this module. In particular, through repeated opportunities in working through the modeling cycle (see page 61 of the CCLS), students acquire the insight that the same mathematical or statistical structure can sometimes model seemingly different situations.
Students build a formal understanding of probability, considering complex events such as unions, intersections, and complements as well as the concept of independence and conditional probability. The idea of using a smooth curve to model a data distribution is introduced along with using tables and techonolgy to find areas under a normal curve. Students make inferences and justify conclusions from sample surveys, experiments, and observational studies. Data is used from random samples to estimate a population mean or proportion. Students calculate margin of error and interpret it in context. Given data from a statistical experiment, students use simulation to create a randomization distribution and use it to determine if there is a significant difference between two treatments.
In this module, students reconnect with and deepen their understanding of statistics and probability concepts first introduced in Grades 6, 7, and 8. Students develop a set of tools for understanding and interpreting variability in data, and begin to make more informed decisions from data. They work with data distributions of various shapes, centers, and spreads. Students build on their experience with bivariate quantitative data from Grade 8. This module sets the stage for more extensive work with sampling and inference in later grades.
In earlier grades, students define, evaluate, and compare functions and use them to model relationships between quantities. In this module, students extend their study of functions to include function notation and the concepts of domain and range. They explore many examples of functions and their graphs, focusing on the contrast between linear and exponential functions. They interpret functions given graphically, numerically, symbolically, and verbally; translate between representations; and understand the limitations of various representations.
In earlier modules, students analyze the process of solving equations and developing fluency in writing, interpreting, and translating between various forms of linear equations (Module 1) and linear and exponential functions (Module 3). These experiences combined with modeling with data (Module 2), set the stage for Module 4. Here students continue to interpret expressions, create equations, rewrite equations and functions in different but equivalent forms, and graph and interpret functions, but this time using polynomial functions, and more specifically quadratic functions, as well as square root and cube root functions.