• Grade 6  Science Unit #2

    Subject: Science
    Grade: 6
    Timeline: 12 weeks
    Unit Title: Discovering Near Space

    Unit #2 Overview: 
    Discovering Near Space concentrates on the Sun-Earth-Moon system and the objects contained in our solar system.  This unit helps students understand the Sun-Earth-Moon system through the use of models, computer simulations, and outdoor investigations.  Students focus their study on the Sun-Earth relationship by tracking shadows at different times of day and modeling shadows during different seasons. They will relate the changes in shadow patterns to the apparent motion of the Sun across the sky and draw conclusions about  how the Earth's  rotation and orbit impact shadow length and angle.  They also explore the seasons on Earth, how they vary at different  latitudes, and the North Star.
          The students will analyze and model lunar phases and moonrise and moonset data, which they collect on their own.  They will then explore both solar and lunar eclipses. This links all three bodies in the Sun-Earth-Moon system.  Additional  topics covered in this unit are gravity and tides, the Sun as an energy source, space weather, and sunspots.
          Two main exploration activities take place during this unit: a research of the spinoff technologies that developed from the space program and a set of activities that research the solar system; its planets, meteoroids, asteroids, and comets.
           Throughout the unit, the students continue to build their science process skills, such as observations, data recording, graphing, and drawing conclusions based on data that they collect.

    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. There are seven Crosscutting Concepts and the following ones are used in this unit:

    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.
    3. Scale, proportion, and quantity.  In considering phenomena, it is critical to recognize what is relevant at different   measures of size, time, and energy and to recognize how changes in scale, proportion, or quantity affect a system’s structure or performance.
    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.

     Focus Standards:
    PSSA Eligible Content

    S8.A.2.1.1: Use evidence, observations, or a variety of scales to describe relationships.                            

    S8.A.3.1.2: Explain the concept of order in a system (e.g., first to last manufacturing steps; trophic levels; simple to complex—levels of biological organization from cell to organism).  
    S8.A.3.2.1: Make inferences based on scientific models (e.g., charts, graphs, diagrams).  
    S8.A.1.1.4: Use evidence to develop descriptions, explanations, and models.
    S8.A.3.1.1: Describe a 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.A.1.1.3: Use evidence, such as observations or experimental results, to support inferences about a relationship.    
    S8.A.1.1.4: Develop descriptions, explanations, predictions, and models using evidence.
    S8.A.2.2.3: Describe ways technology (e.g., microscope, telescope, micrometer, hydraulics, barometer) extends and enhances human abilities for specific purposes.
    S8.D.3.1.1: Describe patterns of earth’s movements (i.e., rotation and revolution) in relation to the moon and sun (i.e., phases, eclipses, and tides).
    S8.D.3.1.2: Describe the role of gravity as the force that governs the movement of the solar system and universe.
    S8.D.3.1.3: Compare and contrast characteristics of celestial bodies found in the solar system (e.g., moons, asteroids, comets, meteors, inner and outer planets).

     ESS1.A:  The Universe and Its Stars
    • Patterns of the apparent motion of the sun, the moon, and stars in the sky can be observed, described, predicted, and explained with models.
    • Earth and its solar system are part of the Milky Way galaxy, which is one of many galaxies in the universe.
    ESS1.B: Earth and the Solar System
    • The solar system consists of the sun and a collection of objects, including planets, their moons, and asteroids that are held in orbit around the sun by its gravitational pull on them.

    • This model of the solar system can explain eclipses of the sun and the moon.  Earth's spin axis is fixed in direction over the short-term but tilted relative to its orbit around the sun.  The seasons are a result of that tilt and are caused by the differential intensity of sunlight on different areas of Earth across the year.
    • The solar system appears to have formed from a disk of dust and gas, drawn together by gravity.

    Concepts - Students will know:
    • Models can be used in science to show relationships among sets of objects.
    • The Sun, a star is the largest body in the solar system.
    • Earth is larger than the moon.
    • The Sun is much farther away from the Earth than the Moon.
    • The Moon and the Earth while Earth rotate on their axes.
    • The Moon orbits Earth  while Earth orbits the Sun.
    • A month is the time for one revolution of the Moon around the Earth.
    • A year is the time for one revolution of Earth around the Sun.
    • Shadows change during the day as the Sun's position in the sky changes.
    • Looking directly at the Sun can damage the eyes.
    • Shadows reveal relationships between time of day and the apparent position of the Sun in the sky.
    • The apparent path of the Sun is highest in the sky during summer, lowest during winter, and highest each day at solar noon.
    • Shadows change according to the time of day and year.
    • Earth is tilted on its axis as it orbits the Sun.
    • Seasons are the result of different amounts of sunlight falling on a hemisphere at different times of the year.
    • When a hemisphere is tilted toward the sun, it experiences summer, with longer day lengths. When a hemisphere is tilted away from the Sun, it experiences winter, with shorter day lengths.
    • The length of daylight and apparent path of the Sun for each season vary at different latitudes.
    • The Moon changes its appearance as it orbits Earth.  These changes in appearance are called phases of the Moon.
    • The Moon rises and sets later each day.
    • The Moon is a sphere and reflects the Sun's light.  Therefore, only half the Moon is illuminated at one time--the half turned toward the Sun.
    • The Moon goes through a predictable cycle in its changes in its apparent shape, called "phases".
    • The Moon's phases occur because we see only portions of the Moon's illuminated side, depending on the Moon's position relative to Earth.
    • Eclipses occur when the Sun, Earth, and Moon align at a time when the Moon crosses the plane of the ecliptic.
    • A solar eclipse can occur only during a new moon; the Moon comes between the Sun and Earth and casts a shadow on parts of Earth.
    • A lunar eclipse can occur only during a full moon; Earth comes between the Sun and Moon and casts a shadow  on the Moon.
    • Gravity is an attractive force between all matter.
    • Tides are the periodic rise and fall of the sea level and other bodies of water.
    • Tides are the result of the gravitational attraction between the Moon and Earth (and the Sun and Earth).
    • Solar wind is a flow of particles from the Sun.
    • Scientists study the corona and solar wind during solar eclipses.
    • Radiation is the direct transfer of energy by electromagnetic waves.
    • Solar radiation is energy from the Sun and is a major source of energy for Earth.
    • A sunspot is a region of the Sun's surface that is relatively cooler and darker than its surroundings.
    • Space spinoffs are widely used and have many functions.
    • The solar system consists of one star, the Sun, eight planets and their moons, meteors, and asteroids and each have their own special characteristics.
    • Scaling is a way to compare the sizes and distances of the planets and the sun.
    Competencies -Students will be able to:
    • Use models to explain apparent motions and phenomena observed in the Sun-Earth-Moon system.
    • Investigate between the relative sizes of and distances between the Sun, Earth, and Moon. 
    • Record the length and angle of shadows cast by a shadow stick at different times during the day.
    • Relate the length and angle of shadow to the apparent position of the Sun in the sky.
    • Model winter and summer shadows and compare the Sun's apparent position in the sky during each season.
    • Simulate Earth's rotation, and relate it to the Sun's apparent daily motion across the sky.
    • Model Earth's tilt on its axis as it orbits the Sun.
    • Identify Polaris as the current North Star.
    • Analyze data from investigations.
    • Design and perform experiments about the Sun-Earth-Moon system.
    • Write evidence-based conclusions for experiments.
    • Communicate results through writings, tables, and graphs.
    • Read to obtain more information about the Sun-Earth-Moon System.

    • Preassessment
    • Assessment Probes
    • Formative assessments
    • Reflections
    • Performance Assessments
    • Summative Assessments

    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 5 Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking
    Although there are differences in how mathematics and computational thinking are applied in science and in engineering, mathematics often brings these two fields together by enabling engineers to apply the mathematical form of scientific theories and by enabling scientists to use powerful information technologies designed by engineers. Both can thereby accomplish investigations and analyses and build complex models, which might otherwise be out of the question. Students will practice these computations.
    Practice 6 Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
    The goal of science is to construct explanations for the causes of phenomena. Students are expected to construct their
    own explanations, as well as apply standard explanations they learn about from their teachers or reading.
    Practice 7 Engaging in Argument from Evidence
    The study of science and engineering should produce a sense of the process of argument necessary for advancing and defending a new idea or an explanation of a phenomenon and the norms for conducting such arguments. In that spirit, students should argue for the explanations they construct, defend their interpretations of the associated data, and advocate
    for the designs they propose.
    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. Additional differentiation options are listed with directions and student masters in the Teacher’s Guide.
    •  Use word walls and flip charts
    •  Structured notebooks
    •  Peer teaching
    •  Team with math teacher for more in-depth graphing and measuring concepts.
    •  Use of technology
    •  Group reading activities


    • Research topics can be done more in depth.
    • Students can design their own specific experiments with variables that they choose.
    • Explore similar topics such as,
    • Share topics with a younger class.
    • Reading about other space topics.

      Interdisciplinary Connections: