Grade 8 Model Science Unit 4: Human Impacts (draft 16) Instructional Days 25



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Grade 8 Model Science Unit 4: Human Impacts (draft 1.9.16) Instructional Days 25


Unit Summary

How do we monitor the health of the environment (our life support system)?

Is it possible to predict and protect ourselves from natural hazards?

In this unit of study, students analyze and interpret data and design solutions to build on their understanding of the ways that human activities affect Earth’s systems. The emphasis of this unit is the significant and complex issues surrounding human uses of land, energy, mineral, and water resources and the resulting impacts of these uses. The crosscutting concepts of cause and effect and the influence of science, engineering, and technology on society and the natural world are called out as organizing concepts for these disciplinary core ideas.

Building on Unit 3, students define a problem by precisely specifying criteria and constraints for solutions as well as potential impacts on society and the natural environment; systematically evaluate alternative solutions; analyze data from tests of different solutions; combining the best ideas into an improved solution; and develop and iteratively test and improve their model to reach an optimal solution. In this unit of study students are expected to demonstrate proficiency in analyzing and interpreting data and designing solutions. Students are also expected to use these practices to demonstrate understanding of the core ideas.

This unit is based on MS-ESS3-3, MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2, and MS-ETS1-3.



Student Learning Objectives

Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment. [Clarification Statement: Examples of the design process include examining human environmental impacts, assessing the kinds of solutions that are feasible, and designing and evaluating) solutions that could reduce that impact. Examples of human impacts can include water usage (such as the withdrawal of water from streams and aquifers or the construction of dams and levees), land usage (such as urban development, agriculture, or the removal of wetlands), and pollution (such as of the air, water, or land).] (MS-ESS3-3)

Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions. (MS-ETS1-1)

Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem. (MS-ETS1-2)

Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success. (MS-ETS1-3)




Quick Links

Unit Sequence p. 2

What it Looks Like in the Classroom p. 2

Connecting ELA/Literacy and Math p. 3

Modifications p. 4

Research on Learning p. 5

Prior Learning p. 5

Future Learning p. 6


Connections to Other Units p. 7

Sample Open Education Resources p. 7

Appendix A: NGSS and Foundations p. 8





Unit Sequence




Part A: How do we monitor the health of the environment (our life support system)?

Concepts

Formative Assessments

  • Human activities have significantly altered the biosphere, sometimes damaging or destroying natural habitats and causing the extinction of other species.

  • Changes to Earth’s environments can have different impacts (negative and positive) for different living things.

  • Typically as human populations and per capita consumption of natural resources increase, so do the negative impacts on Earth, unless the activities and technologies involved are engineered otherwise.

  • Relationships can be classified as causal or correlational, and correlation does not necessarily imply causation.

  • The uses of technologies and any limitations on their use are driven by individual or societal needs, desires, and values; by the findings of scientific research; and by differences in such factors as climate, natural resources, and economic conditions. Thus technology use varies from region to region and over time.

Students who understand the concepts can:

  • Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.




What It Looks Like in the Classroom

Throughout this unit of study, students will be engaged in the engineering design process. Students can start by identifying a human impact on the environment that has resulted from human consumption of natural resources. Using what they have identified, students will begin to define the criteria and constraints of the design problem whose solution will help to monitor and minimize the human impact on the environment. Using informational texts to support this process is important. Students will draw evidence from these texts in order to support their analysis, reflection, and research.

When students consider criteria, they should conduct short research projects to examine factors such as societal and individual needs, cost effectiveness, available materials and natural resources, current scientific knowledge, and current advancements in science and technology. They should also consider limitations due to natural factors such as regional climate and geology. While conducting their research, students will need to gather their information from multiple print and digital sources and assess the credibility of each source.

When students quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions found in these resources, they will need to avoid plagiarism and provide basic bibliographic information for each source. After comparing the information gained from their research, experiments, simulations, video, or other multimedia sources, they will be able to determine precise design criteria and constraints that lead to a successful solution.

Students will need to jointly develop and agree upon the design criteria that will be used to evaluate competing existing design solutions (i.e., varying dam designs, irrigation systems, varying methods of reducing pollution, varying methods of urban development). Students can use a rubric, checklist, or decision tree to assist them in evaluating the design solution selected.

Students can be provided with data from tests performed on these existing design solutions. They will analyze and interpret these data to determine similarities and differences in findings. This is where they are deciding where different parts of the pre-existing solutions can be combined. For example, the building materials of a particular dam may be superior while the shape of another design may be more suitable. Students should consider the ratio relationship between the impacts that humans have on the environment and the impact that the design solution has on minimizing these impacts. Students will need to consider both qualitative and quantitative data when drawing conclusions about the various design solutions.

It is important that students handle mathematical data appropriately. They should use variables to represent quantities and construct simple equations and inequalities to solve problems. While analyzing numerical data, students will need to solve mathematical problems that show both positive and negative values and apply properties of operations to calculate with numbers in any form; convert between forms as appropriate; and assess the reasonableness of answers using mental computations and estimation strategies. Support from mathematics teachers will help students with the mathematics required for this type of analysis.



Once students have evaluated competing solutions and analyzed and interpreted data showing the similarities and differences of these solutions, they may then begin designing their own solutions. It is important that students consider the benefits and risks of each existing design solution. The impact on the environment and human society must be considered in the design. The final goal for students is to identify the parts of each design solution that best fit their criteria and constraints and combine these parts into a design solution that is better than any of its predecessors.




Connecting with English Language Arts/Literacy and Mathematics

English Language Arts/Literacy

  • Conduct short research projects to determine a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment, drawing on several sources and generating additional, related, focused questions that allow multiple avenues of exploration.

  • Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources about a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment, assess the credibility of each source, and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and providing basic bibliographic information for sources.

  • Draw evidence from informational texts about minimizing a human impact on the environment to support analysis, reflection, and research.

  • Cite specific textual evidence about a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment to support analysis of science and technical texts.

  • Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, videos, or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.

  • Integrate quantitative or technical information about a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment expressed in words with a version of that information expressed visually.

Mathematics

  • Use abstract and quantitative reasoning to analyze and interpret data in order to determine similarities and differences in findings of how well designed methods meet the criteria and constraints of solutions that could reduce a human impact on the environment.

  • Understand the concept of a ratio and use ratio language to describe a ratio relationship between human impacts on environments and the impact of methods to minimize these impacts.

  • Use variables to represent quantities when analyzing and interpreting data to determine how well designed methods meet the criteria and constraints of solutions that could reduce a human impact on the environment and construct simple equations and inequalities to solve problems by reasoning about the quantities.

  • While analyzing data to determine how well designed methods meet the criteria and constraints of solutions that could reduce a human impact on the environment, solve multistep mathematical problems posed with positive and negative rational numbers in any form (whole numbers, fractions, and decimals), using tools strategically. Apply properties of operations to calculate with numbers in any form; covert between forms as appropriate; and assess the reasonableness of answers using mental computation and estimation strategies.




Modifications

(Note: Teachers identify the modifications that they will use in the unit. See NGSS Appendix D: All Standards, All Students/Case Studies for vignettes and explanations of the modifications.)

  • Structure lessons around questions that are authentic, relate to students’ interests, social/family background and knowledge of their community.

  • Provide students with multiple choices for how they can represent their understandings (e.g. multisensory techniques-auditory/visual aids; pictures, illustrations, graphs, charts, data tables, multimedia, modeling).

  • Provide opportunities for students to connect with people of similar backgrounds (e.g. conversations via digital tool such as SKYPE, experts from the community helping with a project, journal articles, and biographies).

  • Provide multiple grouping opportunities for students to share their ideas and to encourage work among various backgrounds and cultures (e.g. multiple representation and multimodal experiences).

  • Engage students with a variety of Science and Engineering practices to provide students with multiple entry points and multiple ways to demonstrate their understandings.

  • Use project-based science learning to connect science with observable phenomena.

  • Structure the learning around explaining or solving a social or community-based issue.

  • Provide ELL students with multiple literacy strategies.

  • Collaborate with after-school programs or clubs to extend learning opportunities.

  • Restructure lesson using UDL principals (http://www.cast.org/our-work/about-udl.html#.VXmoXcfD_UA)



Research on Student Learning

N/A




Prior Learning

By the end of Grade 5, students understand that:

When the environment changes in ways that affect a place’s physical characteristics, temperature, or resource availability, some organisms survive and reproduce, others move to new locations, yet others move into the transformed environment, and some die. Students also know that populations live in a variety of habitats, and change in those habitats affects the organisms living there.

Human activities in agriculture, industry, and everyday life have major effects on land, vegetation, streams, oceans, air, and even outer space. But individuals and communities are doing things to help protect Earth’s resources and environments.

A simple design problem can be solved through the development of an object, tool, process, or system, and the solution can include several criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost. Students know that they can test two different models of the same proposed object, tool, or process to determine which better meets criteria for success. Students also analyzed data to refine a problem statement or the design of a proposed object, tool, or process and used data to evaluate and refine design solutions. They applied scientific ideas to solve design problems and generate and compare multiple solutions to a problem based on how well they met the criteria and constraints of the design solution. Students have made claims about the merit of a solution to a problem by citing relevant evidence about how it meets the criteria and constraints of the problem.






Future Learning

  • A complex set of interactions within an ecosystem can keep numbers and types of organisms in the ecosystem relatively constant over long periods of time under stable conditions.

  • If a modest biological or physical disturbance to an ecosystem occurs, the ecosystem may return, more or less, to its original status (i.e., the ecosystem is resilient), as opposed to becoming a very different ecosystem.

  • Extreme fluctuations in conditions or the size of any population can challenge the functioning of ecosystems in terms of resources and habitat availability.

  • Anthropogenic changes (induced by human activity) in the environment—including habitat destruction, pollution, introduction of invasive species, overexploitation, and climate change—can disrupt an ecosystem and threaten the survival of some species.

  • Evolution is a consequence of the interaction of four factors: (1) the potential for a species to increase in number, (2) the genetic variation of individuals in a species due to mutation and sexual reproduction, (3) competition for an environment’s limited supply of the resources that individuals need in order to survive and reproduce, and (4) the ensuing proliferation of those organisms that are better able to survive and reproduce in that environment.

  • Natural selection leads to adaptation—that is, to a population dominated by organisms that are anatomically, behaviorally, and physiologically well-suited to survive and reproduce in a specific environment. The differential survival and reproduction of organisms within a population that have an advantageous heritable trait lead to an increase in the proportion of individuals in future generations that have the trait and to a decrease in the proportion of individuals that do not.

  • Adaptation also means that the distribution of traits in a population can change when conditions change.

  • Changes in the physical environment, whether naturally occurring or human induced, have thus contributed to the expansion of some species, the emergence of new distinct species as populations diverge under different conditions, and the decline—and sometimes the extinction—of some species.

  • Species become extinct because they can no longer survive and reproduce in an altered environment.

  • If members cannot adjust to change that is too fast or drastic, the opportunity for the species’ evolution is lost.

  • Humans depend on the living world for resources and other benefits provided by biodiversity. But human activity is also having adverse impacts on biodiversity through overpopulation, overexploitation, habitat destruction, pollution, introduction of invasive species, and climate change.

  • Sustaining biodiversity so that ecosystem functioning and productivity are maintained is essential to supporting and enhancing life on Earth. Sustaining biodiversity also aids humanity by preserving landscapes of recreational or inspirational value.

  • The abundance of liquid water on Earth’s surface and its unique combination of physical and chemical properties are central to the planet’s dynamics. These properties include water’s exceptional capacity to absorb, store, and release large amounts of energy; transmit sunlight; expand upon freezing; dissolve and transport materials; and lower the viscosities and melting points of rocks.

  • The foundation of Earth’s global climate system is the electromagnetic radiation from the sun, as well as its reflection, absorption, storage, and redistribution among the atmosphere, ocean, and land systems, and this energy’s re-radiation into space.

  • Gradual atmospheric changes were due to plants and other organisms that captured carbon dioxide and released oxygen.

  • Changes in the atmosphere due to human activity have increased carbon dioxide concentrations and thus affect climate.

  • The many dynamic and delicate feedbacks between the biosphere and other Earth systems cause a continual co-evolution of Earth’s surface and the life that exists on it.

  • The sustainability of human societies and the biodiversity that supports them requires responsible management of natural resources.

  • Scientists and engineers can make major contributions by developing technologies that produce less pollution and waste and that preclude ecosystem degradation.

  • Though the magnitudes of human impacts are greater than they have ever been, so too are human abilities to model, predict, and manage current and future impacts.

  • Through computer simulations and other studies, important discoveries are still being made about how the ocean, the atmosphere, and the biosphere interact and are modified in response to human activities.

  • Criteria and constraints also include satisfying any requirements set by society, such as taking issues of risk mitigation into account, and they should be quantified to the extent possible and stated in such a way that one can tell if a given design meets them.

  • Humanity faces major global challenges today—such as the need for supplies of clean water and food and for energy sources that minimize pollution—which can be addressed through engineering.

  • These global challenges also may have manifestations in local communities.




Connections to Other Units

Grade 6, Unit 2: Matter and Energy in Organisms and Ecosystems

  • Organisms, and populations of organisms, are dependent on their environmental interactions both with other living things and with nonliving factors.

  • In any ecosystem, organisms and populations with similar requirements for food, water, oxygen, or other resources may compete with each other for limited resources, access to which consequently constrains their growth and reproduction.

  • Growth of organisms and population increases are limited by access to resources.

  • Similarly, predatory interactions may reduce the number of organisms or eliminate whole populations of organisms. Mutually beneficial interactions, in contrast, may become so interdependent that each organism requires the other for survival. Although the species involved in these competitive, predatory, and mutually beneficial interactions vary across ecosystems, the patterns of interactions of organisms with their environments, both living and nonliving, are shared.

Grade 6, Unit 5: Types of Interactions

  • Ecosystems are dynamic in nature; their characteristics can vary over time. Disruptions to any physical or biological component of an ecosystem can lead to shifts in all its populations.

  • Biodiversity describes the variety of species found in Earth’s terrestrial and oceanic ecosystems. The completeness or integrity of an ecosystem’s biodiversity is often used as a measure of its health.

  • Changes in biodiversity can influence humans’ resources, such as food, energy, and medicines, as well as ecosystem services that humans rely on—for example, water purification and recycling.



Sample of Open Education Resources

USGS Educational Resources for Secondary Grades (7–12): This web site contains selected USGS educational resources that may be useful to educators in secondary school grades. Many of these resources can be used directly in the classroom or will be useful in classroom lessons or demonstration activities preparation, or as resources for teacher education and curriculum development.

NOAA Education Resources: This website contains access to curriculum resources, professional development opportunities, student opportunities, and outreach events.


Appendix A: NGSS and Foundations for the Unit

Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment. [Clarification Statement: Examples of the design process include examining human environmental impacts, assessing the kinds of solutions that are feasible, and designing and evaluating) solutions that could reduce that impact. Examples of human impacts can include water usage (such as the withdrawal of water from streams and aquifers or the construction of dams and levees), land usage (such as urban development, agriculture, or the removal of wetlands), and pollution (such as of the air, water, or land).] (MS-ESS3-3)

Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions. (MS-ETS1-1)

Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem. (MS-ETS1-2)

Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success. (MS-ETS1-3)

The performance expectations above were developed using the following elements from the NRC document A Framework for K-12 Science Education:

Science and Engineering Practices

Disciplinary Core Ideas

Crosscutting Concepts

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

  • Construct a scientific explanation based on valid and reliable evidence obtained from sources (including the students’ own experiments) and the assumption that theories and laws that describe the natural world operate today as they did in the past and will continue to do so in the future. (MS-ESS3-1)

  • Apply scientific principles to design an object, tool, process or system. (MS-ESS3-3)

Asking Questions and Defining Problems

  • Define a design problem that can be solved through the development of an object, tool, process or system and includes multiple criteria and constraints, including scientific knowledge that may limit possible solutions. (MS-ETS1-1)

Engaging in Argument from Evidence

  • Evaluate competing design solutions based on jointly developed and agreed-upon design criteria. (MS-ETS1-2)

Analyzing and Interpreting Data

  • Analyze and interpret data to determine similarities and differences in findings. (MS-ETS1-3)




ESS3.C: Human Impacts on Earth Systems

  • Human activities have significantly altered the biosphere, sometimes damaging or destroying natural habitats and causing the extinction of other species. But changes to Earth’s environments can have different impacts (negative and positive) for different living things. (MS-ESS3-3)

  • Typically as human populations and per-capita consumption of natural resources increase, so do the negative impacts on Earth unless the activities and technologies involved are engineered otherwise. (MS-ESS3-3),(MS-ESS3-4)

ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems

  • The more precisely a design task’s criteria and constraints can be defined, the more likely it is that the designed solution will be successful. Specification of constraints includes consideration of scientific principles and other relevant knowledge that are likely to limit possible solutions. (MS-ETS1-1)

ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions

A solution needs to be tested, and then modified on the basis of the test results, in order to improve it. (MS-ETS1-4)



  • There are systematic processes for evaluating solutions with respect to how well they meet the criteria and constraints of a problem. (MS-ETS1-2), (MS-ETS1-3)

  • Sometimes parts of different solutions can be combined to create a solution that is better than any of its predecessors. (MS-ETS1-3)

  • Models of all kinds are important for testing solutions. (MS-ETS1-4)

Cause and Effect

  • Relationships can be classified as causal or correlational, and correlation does not necessarily imply causation. (MS-ESS3-3)

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Connections to Engineering, Technology, and                      Applications of Science


 Influence of Science, Engineering, and Technology on Society and the Natural World

  • The uses of technologies and any limitations on their use are driven by individual or societal needs, desires, and values; by the findings of scientific research; and by differences in such factors as climate, natural resources, and economic conditions. Thus technology use varies from region to region and over time. (MS-ESS3-3)

Influence of Science, Engineering, and Technology on Society and the Natural World

  • All human activity draws on natural resources and has both short and long-term consequences, positive as well as negative, for the health of people and the natural environment. (MS-ETS1-1)

  • The uses of technologies and limitations on their use are driven by individual or societal needs, desires, and values; by the findings of scientific research; and by differences in such factors as climate, natural resources, and economic conditions. (MS-ETS1-1)




English Language Arts

Mathematics

Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts. (MS-ETS1-1),(MS-ETS1-2),(MS-ETS1-3) RST.6-8.1

Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).  (MS-ESS3-3),(MS-ETS1-3) RST.6-8.7

Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, videos, or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on the same topic. (MS-ETS1-2),(MS-ETS1-3) RST.6-8.9

Conduct short research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question), drawing on several sources and generating additional related, focused questions that allow for multiple avenues of exploration. (MS-ETS1-2) WHST.6-8.7

Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, using search terms effectively; assess the credibility and accuracy of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.  (MS-ESS3-3),(MS-ETS1-1) WHST.6-8.8

Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research. (MS-ETS1-2) WHST.6-8.9

Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest. (MS-ETS1-4) SL.8.5


Use variables to represent numbers and write expressions when solving a real-world or mathematical problem; understand that a variable can represent an unknown number, or, depending on the purpose at hand, any number in a specified set. (MS-ESS3-3) 6.EE.B.6

Use variables to represent quantities in a real-world or mathematical problem, and construct simple equations and inequalities to solve problems by reasoning about the quantities. (MS-ESS3-3) 7.EE.B.4

Understand the concept of a ratio and use ratio language to describe a ratio relationship between two quantities. (MS-ESS3-3) 6.RP.A.1

Recognize and represent proportional relationships between quantities. (MS-ESS3-3) 7.RP.A.2

Reason abstractly and quantitatively. (MS-ETS1-1),(MS-ETS1-2),(MS-ETS1-3) MP.2



Solve multi-step real-life and mathematical problems posed with positive and negative rational numbers in any form (whole numbers, fractions, and decimals), using tools strategically. Apply properties of operations to calculate with numbers in any form; convert between forms as appropriate; and assess the reasonableness of answers using mental computation and estimation strategies. (MS-ETS1-1),(MS-ETS1-2),(MS-ETS1-3) 7.EE.3





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