Elementary Science Grade 4 Unit 3
Timeline: 12 Weeks
Unit/Module Title: Earth's Surface and Interactions
In this unit students investigate the interactions between land and water. Using a stream table as a model, they create hills, build dams, and grow vegetation. Students discover how water changes the shape of land and how features of land in turn affect the flow of water.
The objectives of this unit are to apply the Next Generation Science Standard (NGSS) Crosscutting Concepts that bridge disciplinary boundaries, uniting core ideas through the fields of science and engineering.
Scale, Proportion, and Quantity
Standard units are used to measure and describe physical quantities such as weight and volume. (5-ESS2-2)
Systems and System Models
A system can be described in terms of its components and their interactions. (5-ESS2-1)
PSSA Eligible Content:
S4.D.1.1.1 Describe how prominent Earth features in Pennsylvania (e.g., mountains, valleys, beaches, caves, sinkholes, lakes, rivers) were formed.
S4.D.1.1.2 Identify various Earth structures (e.g., mountain, watershed, peninsula, lake, river, valley) through the use of models.
S4.D.1.1.3 Describe the composition of soil as weathered rock and decomposed organic remains.
S4.D.1.3.1 Describe types of fresh water and salt water bodies (e.g. lakes, rivers, wetlands, oceans).
S4.D.1.3.2 Explain how water goes through phase changes (i.e. evaporation, condensation, freezing, and melting).
S4.D.1.3.3 Describe or compare lotic systems (ponds, lakes, bays) and lentic systems (streams, creeks, rivers).
S4.D. 1.3.4 Explain the role and relationship of a watershed or a wetland on water sources (e.g. water storage, ground water recharge, water filtration, water source, water cycle).
S4.D. 2.1.1 Identify basic cloud types (cirrus, cumulus, stratus, cumulonimbus) and make connections to basic elements of weather (e.g. changes in temperature and precipitation).
S4.A.3.1.1 Categorize systems as natural or human made (e.g. ball point pens, simple electric circuits, plant anatomy, water cycle).
S4.A.3.2.1 Identify what different models represent (e.g. maps show physical features, directions, distances; globes represent Earth; drawings of watersheds depict terrain; dioramas show ecosystems; concept maps show relationships of ideas).
S4.A.3.3.1 Identify and describe observable patterns (e.g. growth patterns in plants, weather, water cycle).
S4.B.3.3.5 Describe the effects of pollution (e.g. litter) in the community.
S4.D.1.2.2 Identify the types and uses of Earth materials for renewable, non-renewable and reusable products (e.g.human made products: concrete, paper, plastics, metal, fabrics, buildings, highways).
S4.D.1.2.3 Recognize ways that humans benefit from the use of water resources (e.g. agriculture, energy, recreation).
NGSS Discipliinary Core Ideas:
ESS2.A: Earth Materials and Systems
Earth’s major systems are the geosphere (solid and molten rock, soil, and sediments), the hydrosphere (water and ice), the atmosphere (air), and the biosphere (living things, including humans). These systems interact in multiple ways to affect Earth’s surface materials and processes. The ocean supports a variety of ecosystems and organisms, shapes landforms, and influences climate. Winds and clouds in the atmosphere interact with the landforms to determine patterns of weather. (5-ESS2-1)
ESS2.C: The Roles of Water in Earth’s Surface Processes
Nearly all of Earth’s available water is in the ocean. Most fresh water is in glaciers or underground; only a tiny fraction is in streams, lakes, wetlands, and the atmosphere. (5-ESS2-2)
Concepts - Students will know:
- the formation of the Earth's features.
- the value and uses of the Earth's resources.
- types of resources.
- fossil formations.
- the impact of water on terrestrial Earth.
Competencies - Students will be able to:
- identify Earth's terrestrial (e.g. mountain, hill, plateau, plains).
- identify Earth's water features (e.g. oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, streams).
- identify causes for terrestrial change (e.g. erosion, weathering).
- explain the role and relationship between global, national, and local watersheds/drainage basins.
- identify shoreline features (e.g. bay, inlet, marsh).
- research the impact that various water systems have on shorelines.
- contrast nonrenewable and renewable resources.
- distinguish between man made and natural resources.
- research conservation methods for Earth's resources.
- list several uses of important resources.
- Performance Tasks
- Teacher Observation
Elements of Instruction:
The NGSS identifies eight Science and Engineering Practices that all students in all grades must participate in to effectively investigate the natural world through the practices of science inquiry, or solve meaningful problems through the practices of engineering design. Two of these practices apply to this unit.
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.
Develop a model using an example to describe a scientific principle. (5-ESS2-1)
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. (5-ESS2-2)
- Have students survey their parents or other adults about vacation places they have visited to see unusual landforms (Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, etc.)
- Have students use a flashlight to represent the sun/a source of light and heat and make observations.
- Challenge students to create a model of the water cycle using different materials.
- Have students test and record their observations of whether solids evaporate by having them set a pan of salt water in the sun.
- Have students use string to measure objects that are not linear (such as round lids, curved lines, rivers on a map, or designs carved in wood).
- Ask students to research ground water in their area (find out how much of drinking water comes from ground water).
- Read and analyze the poem "Where go the Boats" by Robert Lewis Stevenson. Illustrate poem.
- Have students create aerial drawings.
- Ask students to imagine they are leaves caught in a fast flowing stream after a rainstorm. Write about their journey.
- Have students research the Huang He River in China, which has flooded over 1,500 times since people began living there.
- Have students search for artwork, photographs, or other media that depict slow and fast moving water.
- Challenge students to create a model of a waterfall in their stream tables.
- Have students imagine they are an animal that has established a home by a river and suddenly the river is dammed and the environment flooded. Have them write how it will affect them.
- Research places in the world that have suffered major droughts.
- Challenge students to research the use of contour farming to reduce erosion on sloped land.
- Have students use magazine cutouts of sloped landscapes to create a collage that is shaped like a mountain.
- Have students research the Grand Canyon and how it was formed.
Social Studies: Land and Regions textbook. Land geography,weather patterns, and the water cycle.
Additional Resources / Games: