• Grade 6 Science Unit #1

    Subject: Science  
    Grade: 6
    Timeline: 6 weeks
    Unit Title:  Energy Resources and Conservation

    Unit Overview:
    In this unit, the student will learn  why it is important to sustain the Earth's life support systems: Air, Water, Soil, and Energy and what it means to be environmentally friendly. They will explore issues relating to renewable and nonrenewable resources, alternative energy sources, global warming, climate change, and the impacts that humans have on the environment.  The goal is to make the students environmentally aware of their actions to help facilitate attitude and behavioral change.  There is additional curriculum information that can be used to help students complete an energy audit in their school or other environmental project.
    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.
    1.  Patterns.  Observed patterns of forms and events guide organization and classification, and they prompt questions about  relationships and the factors that influence them.
    2.  Cause and effect: Mechanism and explanation.  Events have causes, sometimes simple, sometimes multifaceted. A major activity of science is investigating and  explaining causal relationships and the mechanisms by which they are mediated. Such mechanisms can then be tested across given contexts and used to predict and explain events in new contexts.
    4. Systems and system models.  Defining the system under study—specifying its boundaries and making explicit a model of that system—provides tools for understanding and testing ideas that are applicable throughout science and engineering.
    5. Energy and matter: Flows, cycles, and conservation.Tracking fluxes of energy and matter into, out of, and within systems helps one understand the systems’ possibilities and limitations.
    7. Stability and change.For natural and built systems alike, conditions of stability and determinants of rates of change or evolution of a system are critical elements of study.

    Focus Standards:
    PSSA Eligible Content
    S8.A.3.2.1: Describe how scientists use models to explore relationships and make predictions about natural systems (e.g., weather conditions, the solar system).
    S8.A.1.3.3: Examine systems changing over time, identifying the possible variables causing this change, and drawing inferences about how these variables affect this change.
    S8.A.1.3.4: Given a scenario, explain how a dynamically changing environment provides for the sustainability of living systems.
    S8.C.2.1.1: Distinguish among forms of energy (e.g., electrical, mechanical, chemical, light, sound, nuclear) and sources of energy (i.e., renewable and nonrenewable energy)
    S8.A.3.1.1: Describe a system (e.g., watershed, circulatory system, heating system, agricultural system) as a group of related parts with specific roles that work together to achieve an observed result.
    S8.C.2.2.1: Describe the Sun as the major source of energy that impacts the environment.
    S8.C.2.2.2: Compare the time span of renewability for fossil fuels and the time span of renewability for alternative fuels.
    S8.C.2.2.3: Describe the waste (i.e., kind and quantity) derived from the use of renewable and nonrenewable resources and their potential impact on the environment.
    S8.A.3.1.5: Explain how components of natural and human-made systems play different roles in a working system. 
    ESS3.A: Natural Resources :  Humans depend on Earth's land, ocean, atmosphere, and biosphere for many different resources.  Minerals, fresh water, and biosphere resources are limited, and many are not renewable or replaceable over human lifetimes.  These resources are distributed unevenly around the planet as a result of past geologic processes.
    ESS3.D: Global Climate Change : Human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth's surface temperature (global warming).  Reducing the level of climate change and reducing human vulnerability to whatever climate changes do occur depend on the understanding of climate science, engineering capabilities, and other kinds of knowledge, such as understanding of human behavior and on applying that knowledge wisely in decisions and activities.
    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 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.
    Concepts - Students will know:
    • that the four life support systems are: Air, Water, Soil, and Energy.
    • how we utilize these life support systems in our daily lives to survive.
    • that the life support systems are not in endless supplies and why it is important to preserve and conserve these systems for the future.
    • that coal is a non-renewable resource.
    • that coal is an energy resource that is mined from the Earth.
    • that coal on the surface is easier to mine than coal that is underground.
    • some of the environmental consequences associated with fossil fuel usage.
    • that fossil fuels are non-renewable resources.
    • methods used in an oil spill cleanup.
    • that a watershed is the area of land that drains into a body of water such as Lake Erie.
    • that the land usage in the watershed has a direct impact on the health of the streams that flow into that body of water.
    • the differences between renewable and non-renewable resources.
    • that green and sustainable mean the same thing.
    • the steps of the Scientific Method.
    Competencies -Students will be able to:
    • use the Scientific Method to design an energy savings plan.
    • use an Energy Time line to follow the path of energy from the sun. 
    • simulate coal mining with a cookie activity.
    • simulate an oil spill cleanup.
    • build and use a wind turbine.
    • assemble a solar energy model.


    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.
    Science and Engineering Practices
    Practice 1 Asking Questions and Defining Problems
    Students should be able to ask questions of each other about the texts they read, the features of the phenomena they observe, and the conclusions they draw from their models or scientific investigations. For engineering, they should ask questions to define the problem to be solved and to elicit ideas that lead to the constraints and specifications for its solution.
    Practice 2 Developing and Using Models
    Modeling can begin with students’ models progressing from concrete “pictures” and/or physical scale models  to more abstract representations of relevant relationships in later grades, such as a diagram representing forces on a particular object in a system.

    Practice 3 Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
    Students should have opportunities to plan and carry out several different kinds of investigations. They should engage in investigations that range from those structured  by the teacher—in order to expose  an issue or question that they
    would be unlikely to explore on their own—to those that emerge from students’ own questions.
    Practice 4 Analyzing and Interpreting Data
    Once collected, data must be presented in a form that can reveal any patterns and relationships and that allows results to be communicated to others. Because raw data as such have little meaning, a major practice of scientists is to organize and interpret data through tabulating, graphing, or statistical analysis. Such analysis can bring out the meaning of data—and their relevance—so that they may be used as evidence..
    Practice 8 Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information
    Any education in science and engineering needs to develop students’ ability to read and produce domain-specific text. As such, every science or engineering lesson is in part a language lesson, particularly reading and producing the genres of texts that are intrinsic to science and engineering.

    Each lesson has differentiation options for each portion of the lesson.
    •  Use word walls and flip charts
    •  Structured notebooks
    •  Peer teaching
    •  Vocabulary flash cards


    • Research energy topics.
    • Students can design their own environmental project.
    • Set a debate of renewable vs. nonrenewable resources.
    • Share topics with a younger class.

    Interdisciplinary Connections:

      Additional Resources / Games: