Big Idea:What do students already know about the characteristics that define living things? What do they already know about the components that combine to form an ecosystem? Students take a pre-assessment that will be used to inform instruction.
Big Idea:How do scientists classify parts of living things, and things that were once living but have been changed? Students discover the living and non-living components of messy rooms, go to Science Court, and help Plaid Pete get it all sorted out.
Big Idea:What is an ecosystem? What are the important components that make up an ecosystem? Plaid Pete has a big project coming up, and students will research and plan right alongside him - to construct a model ecosystem.
Big Idea:What are the identifying characteristics of saltwater and freshwater ecosystems? Students work in "expert pairs" to determine importance in scientific text and then form "jigsaw" groups to teach their peers what they have learned.
Big Idea:How can a model help us understand the hydrologic cycle? Students revise their models, and extend what they have learned to help them construct an understanding of how water is cycled on Earth.
Big Idea:What materials are absolutely necessary in order for plants to grow? Students construct hydroponic systems and set up a treatment to investigate the effects of sunlight and no-sunlight on plant leaves.
Big Idea:What are basic plant structures? How do they help a plant survive and grow? Students set up investigations that will help them explore the "plant highways" of xylem and phloem, and the stoma in leaves.
Big Idea:What is the function of plant structures? How do they work together to provide for the needs of a plant? Students investigate the xylem in celery, and then use a close reading strategy to do further research and construct models of plant structures.
Big Idea:How do plants participate in cycling matter through an ecosystem? Students consolidate their understanding of plant structures and function to answer this important question, and demonstrate a basic understanding of The Oxygen Cycle.
Big Idea:What are the identifying characteristics of terrestrial ecosystems? Students work in "expert pairs" to skim and scan scientific text, and then use a collaborative strategy to teach their fellow scientists what they have learned.
Big Idea:How does a food web show relationships within a specific ecosystem? What is The Energy Cycle, and how does it transfer energy through an ecosystem? Just like Plaid Pete - students play the game "Decomposer" to learn these important concepts.
Big Idea:What conditions are necessary for a healthy ecosystem? How does change affect a given ecosystem? Students experience a "discrepant event" and learn just how delicate the balance in nature truly is.
Big Idea:What is the carbon cycle? Why is it important to the healthy balance of an ecosystem? Students play the carbon cycle game, learn the steps of the carbon cycle, and construct models to explain the process.
Big Idea:What factors are needed to create a balanced ecosystem? Students put together what they have learned about the roles of living organisms and their trophic levels, to plan a balanced ecosystem.
Big Idea:What can be learned by observing a model ecosystem? Students collect data, use their physical models to examine matter and energy transfers within ecosystems, and begin a study guide for the unit test.
Big Idea:Students take a 3 part Unit Assessment,and apply their understanding of the Disciplinary Core Ideas of Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics, and the crosscutting concepts of Systems and Systems Models.