• Elementary Science Grade 5 Unit 3

    Subject: Science
    Grade: 5 
    Timeline: 12 weeks
    Unit Title: Environments

    Unit Overview:  
    In this unit students gain experience with the  major environmental factors in terrestrial and aquatic systems. Students organize and analyze data from experiments and investigations with plants and animals. Students use scientific thinking processes to conduct investigations and build explanations: observing, communicating, comparing, organizing and relating. Students observe and describe changes in complex systems over time.

    Unit Objectives:
    The objectives of this unit are to apply the Next Generation Science Standard (NGSS) Crosscutting Concepts that bridge disciplinary boundaries, uniting core ideas throughout the fields of science and engineering.
    Energy and matter:
    Matter is transported into, out of and within systems.
    Cause and Effect:
    Cause and effect relationships are routinely identified, tested and used to explain change.
    Systems and System Models:
    A system can
    be described in terms of its components and their interactions.
    Science Addresses Questions About the Natural and Material World:
    Science findings are limited to questions that can be answered with empirical evidence.

    Focus Standards:

    PSSA Eligible Content:
    S8.B.3.1.2: Identify major biomes and describe abiotic and biotic components.
    S8.B.3.1.3: Explain relatonships among organisms.
    S8.B.3.2.3: Describe the response of organisms to environmental changes and how those changes affect survival.
    NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas:
    LS1.C: Organization for Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms. Plants acquire their material for growth chiefly from air and water.
    LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems. The food of almost any type of animal can be traced back to plants. Organisms are related in food webs in which some animals eat plants for food and other animals eat the animals that eat plants. Some organisms such as fungi and bacteria, break down dead organisms and therefore operate as decomposers. Decomposition eventually restores some materials back to the soil.  Organisms can survive only in environments in which their particular needs are met.  A healthy ecosystem is one in which multiple species of different types are each able to meet their needs in a relatively stable web of life. Newly introduced species  can damage the balance of an ecosystem.
    LS2.B: Cycles of Matter and Energy Transfer in Ecosystems. Matter cycles between the air and soil and among plants, animals and microbes as these organisms live and die. Organisms obtain gases, and water, from the environment, and release waste matter back into the environment.
    ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution. Different solutions need to be tested in order to determine which of them best solves the problem, given the criteria and the constraints.  

    Concepts - Students will know:
    • how abiotic factors affect organisms.
    • that organisms can be categorized by the role they serve in an ecosystem.
    • how matter and energy cycle through the ecosystem.
    • the importance of biodiversity for the survival of the species and well-being of the ecosystem. 
    Competencies - Students will be able to:
    • identify abiotic factors in an environment.
    • observe ecosystems over time.
    • investigate how varying abiotic factors affect organisms. 
    • analyze interactions of organisms within an ecosystem (e.g. predator/prey, etc.)
    • identify cycles in an ecosystem (food, water, etc.)
    • classify organisms by their characteristics.
    • explore challenges for survival of species and ecosystems (pollution, invasive species, disease, etc.)
    • examine how different adaptations have allowed organisms to survive in their environment.

    Formative assessments:
    • Pre-assessment
    • I-Checks
    • Formative assessment probes
    Summative assessments:
    • I-Checks
    • Performance Assessments with rubrics
    • Post-assessment

    Elements of Instruction:
    The NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) identifies eight science and engineering practices.  They are as follows:   
    Engaging in Argument from Evidence:
    Engaging in argument from evidence in grades 3-5 builds in on K-2 experiences and progresses to critiquing the scientific explanations or solutions proposed by peers by citing relevant evidence about the natural design world(s).
    • Support an argument with evidence, data, or a model.
    Developing and Using Models:
    Modeling in 3-5 builds on K-2 experiences and progresses to building and revising simple models and using models to represent events and design solutions.
    •  Use models to demonstrate phenomena.
    Science Models, Laws, Mechanisms, and Theories Explain Natural Phenomena:
    • Science explanations describe the mechanisms for natural events.
    Analyzing and Interpreting Data:
    Analyzing data in 3-5 builds on K-2 experiences and progresses to introducing quantitative approaches to collecting data and conducting multiple trials of qualitative observation. When possible and feasible, digital tools should be used.
    • Represent data in graphical displays to reveal patterns that indicate relationships.
    Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking:
    Mathematical and computational thinking in 3-5 builds on K-2 experiences and progresses to extending quantitative measurements to a variety of physical properties and using computation and mathematics to analyze data and compare alternative design solutions.
    • Describe and graph quantities such as area and volume to address scientific questions.
    Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information:
    Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information in 3-5 builds on K-2 experiences and progresses to evaluating the merit and accuracy of ideas and methods.
    • Obtain and combine information from books and/or other reliable media to explain phenomena or solutions to a design problem.
    Asking Questions and Defining Problems:
    Asking questions and defining problems in 3-5 builds on grades K-2 experiences and progresses to specify qualitative relationships.
    • Define a simple design problem that can be solved through the development of an object, tool, process or system and includes several criteria for success and constraints on materials, time or cost.
    Planning and Carrying Out Investigations:
    Planning and carrying out investigations to answer questions or test solutions to problems in 3-5 builds on K-2 experiences and progresses to include investigations that control variables and provide evidence to support explanations or design solutions.
    • Plan and conduct and investigations collaboratively to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence, using fair tests in which variables are controlled and the number of trials considered.
    Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions:
    Constructing explanations and designing solutions in 3-5 builds on K-2 experiences and progresses to the use of evidence in constructing explanations that specify variables that describe and predict phenomena and in designing multiple solutions to design problems.
    • Generate and compare multiple solutions to a problem based on how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the design problem.

    Each lesson has differentiation options for each portion of the lesson.
    • Use word walls and flip charts
    • Structured notebooks
    • Peer teaching
    • Team with math teacher for more in-depth graphing.


    • Research, diagram and write about beetle metamorphosis
    • Research water gauges

    Interdisciplinary Connections:

    Additional Resources / Games:
    Science/Literacy Kit
    Science Stories: Environments