Middle School: OpenSciEd Unit 7.6: How Do Changes in Earth’s System Impact Our Communities and What Can We Do About It?
OpenSciEd is a nonprofit organization that brings together educators, philanthropic organizations, curriculum developers, and professional development providers to improve science education through the development and implementation of high-quality, freely available science instructional materials. While this work has begun at the middle school level with Grades 6 through 8, the goal of OpenSciEd is to ensure that all educators, from elementary to high school, have access to a free, coherent, rigorous, research-based set of instructional materials that will support all students in meeting the vision for science literacy described in A Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards.
Rating: Example of High Quality NGSS Design
Awarded the NGSS Design Badge
Science Discipline: Earth and Space Science, Engineering
Year Reviewed: 2022
This unit on Earth’s resources and human impact begins with students observing news stories and headlines of drought and flood events across the United States. Students figure out that these drought and flood events are not normal and that both kinds of events seem to be related to rising temperatures. This prompts them to develop an initial model to explain how rising temperatures could cause both droughts and floods and leads students to wonder what could cause rising temperatures, too. This initial work sets students up to ask questions related to the query: How do changes in Earth’s system impact our communities and what can we do about it?
Students spend the first lesson set gathering evidence for how a change in temperature affects evaporation, precipitation, and other parts of Earth’s water system. They use evidence to support a scientific explanation that two climate variables (temperature and precipitation) are changing precipitation patterns in the case sites they investigated. Students figure out that the rising temperatures are caused by an imbalance in Earth’s carbon system, resulting in a variety of problems in different communities. The unit ends with students evaluating different kinds of solutions to these problems and how they are implemented in communities. Students work through a systematic evaluation process to consider (1) each solution’s potential to solve the carbon imbalance, (2) tradeoffs associated with solutions based on student-identified constraints, and (3) whether the solution in question makes sense for their community’s stakeholders.
The NGSS Design Badge is awarded only to the version of this unit that was reviewed. If any modifications are made to this unit, the revised version cannot be promoted as having earned the badge.
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