• Middle School Science Grade 7/8 Semester 3

    Subject: Science
    Grade: 7/8
    Timeline: 18 weeks
    Title: Earth's Systems

     Semester 3 Overview: 
       This unit of study is divided into three parts: storms, earthquakes, and volcanoes. In the storm section, the students will explore how the Earth's surface is heated, convection currents, cloud formation, and ocean currents and how these factors affect global weather.  The earthquake  section will introduce the students to the structure of the Earth, plate tectonics,  and mantle convection and their effects on the Earth's surface.  Exploration of  earthquake waves and how they are recorded and studied is also covered. In the volcano section, the students will add to their knowledge of rocks from third grade by studying the properties of igneous rocks and crystallization.  They will explore the constructive and destructive effects of volcanic activity, including the effect of ash on global weather.
    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.
    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.
    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:
    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.A.3.1.2: Explain the concept of order in a system.
    S8.A.3.1.3: Distinguish among system inputs, system processes, system outputs, and feedback (e.g., physical, ecological, biological, informational).
    S8.A.3.1.4: Distinguish between open loop (e.g., energy flow, food web) and closed loop (e.g., materials in the nitrogen and carbon cycles, closed-switch) systems.
    S8.A.3.1.5: Explain how components of natural and human-made systems play different roles in a working system.
    S8.A.3.2.1: Describe how scientists use models to explore relationships in natural systems (e.g., an ecosystem, river system, the solar system).
    S8.A.3.2.3: Given a model showing simple cause and- effect relationships in a natural system, predict results that can be used to test the assumptions in the model.
    S8.A.3.3.2: Describe repeating structure patterns in nature (e.g., veins in a leaf, tree rings, crystals, water waves) or periodic patterns (e.g., daily, monthly, annually). 
    S8.B.3.2.1: Use evidence to explain factors that affect changes in populations (e.g., deforestation, disease, land use, natural disaster, invasive species). 
    S8.B.3.3.1: Explain how human activities may affect local, regional, and global environments. 
    S8.D.1.1.1: Explain the rock cycle as changes in the solid earth and rock types (igneous – granite, basalt, obsidian, pumice; sedimentary – limestone, sandstone, shale, coal; and metamorphic – slate, quartzite, marble, gneiss).
    S8.D.1.1.2: Describe natural processes that change Earth’s surface (e.g., landslides, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, mountain building, new land being formed, weathering, erosion, sedimentation, soil formation).
    S8.D.1.3.1: Describe the water cycle and the physical processes on which it depends.
    S8.D.2.1.1: Explain the impact of water systems on the local weather or the climate of a region (e.g., lake effect snow, land/ocean breezes).
    S8.D.2.1.2: Identify how global patterns of atmospheric movement influence regional weather and climate.
    S8.D.2.1.3: Identify how cloud types, wind directions, and barometric pressure changes are associated with weather patterns in different regions of the country.
    NGSS Disciplinary Concepts
    • ESS1.C:  The History of Planet Earth  - Tectonic processes continually generate new ocean sea floor at ridges and destroy old sea floor at trenches.
    • ESS2.A:  Earth's Materials and Systems                  
      • All Earth processes are the result of energy flowing and matter cycling within and among the planet's systems.  This energy is derived from the sun and Earth's hot interior.  The energy that flows and matter that cycles produce chemical and physical changes in Earth's materials and living organisms. 
      • The planet's systems interact over scales that range from microscopic to global in size, and they operate over fractions of a second to billions of years.  These interactions have shaped Earth's history and will determine its future.     
    • ESS2.B: Plate Tectonics and Large-Scale System Interactions -  Maps of ancient land and water patterns, based on investigations of rocks and fossils, make clear how Earth’s plates have moved great distances, collided, and spread apart.
    • ESS2.C: The Roles of Water in Earth's Surface Processes 
      • Water continually cycles among land, ocean, and atmosphere via transpiration, evaporation, condensation and crystallization, and precipitation, as well as downhill flows on land.
      • The complex patterns of the changes and the movement of water in the atmosphere, determined by winds, landforms, and ocean temperatures and currents, are major determinants of local weather patterns.
      • Global movements of water and its changes in form are propelled by sunlight and gravity.
      • Variations in density due to variations in temperature and salinity drive a global pattern of interconnected ocean currents.
      • Water’s movements—both on the land and underground—cause weathering and erosion, which change the land’s surface features and create underground formations.
    • ESS2.D: Weather and Climate
      • Weather and climate are influenced by interactions involving sunlight, the ocean, the atmosphere, ice, landforms, and living things. These interactions vary with latitude, altitude, and local and regional geography, all of which can affect oceanic and atmospheric flow patterns. Because these patterns are so complex, weather can only be predicted probabilistically.
      • The ocean exerts a major influence on weather and climate by absorbing energy from the sun, releasing it over time, and globally redistributing it through ocean currents.
    • ESS1.C:  The History of Planet Earth - The geologic time scale interpreted from rock strata provides a way to organize Earth's history.  Analyses of rock strata and the fossil record provide only relative dates, not an absolute scale.
    • ESS3.B: Natural Hazards  - Mapping the history of natural hazards in a region, combined with an understanding of related geologic forces can help forecast the locations and likelihoods of future events.

    Concepts - Students will know:
    • maps and globes are representations of the Earth
    • continental shapes, natural landforms, and swirling clouds offer evidence of an active Earth and an atmosphere.
    • a vortex is the movement of a liquid or gas in spiral around a central axis.
    • the characteristics of thunderstorms, hurricanes, and tornadoes.
    • heat can be transferred by radiation, conduction, and convection.
    • solar radiation or energy from the sun is a major source of energy for weather phenomena.
    • different surfaces heat up and cool down at different rates.
    • warm air is less dense and has a tendency to rise creating an unstable air mass
    • cool air is more dense and has a tendency to sink creating a stable air mass. 
    • water evaporates, rises, condenses and forms clouds. 
    • the upward movement of warm air and the downward movement of cool air form convection currents which move heat through the troposphere.
    • fronts form at the boundary where two air masses meet.
    • land and sea breezes are the result of uneven heating and cooling of land and water.
    • the movement of water between earth, atmosphere and oceans is called the water cycle.
    • water vapor enters the air by evaporation, and changes to water by condensation.
    • clouds form under low air pressure when water vapor from warm, rising air condenses. Precipitation, thunderstorms, tornadoes and hurricanes often occur.
    • the sun heats the earth and oceans unevenly which causes ocean currents and affects climate.
    • the processes that cause earthquakes and what risks it presents to individuals.
    • energy produced  by earthquakes travel in waves and cause varying amounts of damage.
    • earthquake waves radiate from the epicenter and travel outward.
    • earthquake waves can be detected and located using seismographs and seismograms.
    • geological events often occur in particular locations on Earth.
    • earthquake waves help scientists construct hypotheses about the structure and various layers of the earth.
    • major geological events occur from plate movement. 
    • lithospheric plates move on the earths surface which causes landforms such as mountains and trenches to form.
    • faults are fractures in the earth where measurable movement occurs.
    • earthquakes are common along faults. 
    • the earth has a rigid lithosphere that covers a hot mantle.
    • convection currents in the mantle contribute to plate movement which causes earthquakes and determines the location of many ridges and trenches.
    • volcanic eruptions have both constructive and destructive effects.
    • magma is molten rock beneath the earths surface that can change the shape of the earth.
    • lava is magma that has flowed to the earth's surface, cooled and formed layers of new rock. 
    • viscosity is dependent on the composition and temperature of the liquid.
    • volcanoes are classified by shape and size.
    • the shape of the volcano is dependent on the properties of the volcanic matter ejected.
    • the properties of igneous rocks.
    • the rate of cooling affects the size of the crystals formed.
    • the characteristics of three basic rock types.
    • extrusive igneous rocks and intrusive igneous rocks form under different conditions and have different characteristics.
    • the rock cycle is a continuous process in which the three basic types of rocks transform.
    • violent eruptions can eject fragments of magma and rock from a volcano.
    • volcanic ash is material from a volcano usually smaller than 2 mm.
    • properties of ash vary greatly depending on the substance in which the ash was derived and reveal it's general composition.
    • ash and other volcanic materials erupt into the air.
    • the size of the materials affect how they move and settle into the air.
    • the jet stream can move ash globally creating new land and causing human and environmental risks.
    Competencies -Students will be able to:
    • compare a globe with a map
    • record where catastrophic events occur on Earth and describe why they occur there.
    • view satellite images and identify patterns of circular movement within clouds.
    • model a vortex and create a definition of it.
    • observe, record, and graph the heating and cooling rates of soil and water.
    • analyze, and interpret the heating and cooling rates of soil and water.
    • describe the atmosphere and its layers.
    • observe and describe how surface temperature affects the movement and temperature of the air above it.
    • develop definitions for stable and unstable air mass.
    • demonstrate and analyze the movement of two converging air masses.
    • develop definitions for convection current and weather front.
    • model and describe how water evaporates, condenses and forms clouds.
    • analyze weather maps, classify fronts, identify high and low air pressure and various weather conditions.
    • interpret data to plot the path of a hurricane.
    • analyze why the temperature is different at the equator and poles and how that difference affects the way water moves.
    • locate and determine the effects of major ocean currents on climate.
    • use a spring to model and observe the effects of earthquake waves on land and water.
    • design earthquake resistant houses.
    • record and analyze earthquake waves using a model seismograph.
    • locate the earthquakes epicenter by comparing three different seismograms.
    • plot, identify and analyze some locations on a map where earthquakes have occured.
    • hypothesize about the reasons for patterns in these earthquake locations.
    • discuss how scientists use earthquake waves to study the structure of the earth's interior.
    • identify and describe the layers of the earth.
    • plot and compare locations of earthquakes and volcanoes.
    • use models to simulate movement of lithospheric plates and investigate the effects of this movement.
    • use a globe and map to find evidence of plate movement by locating landforms.
    • classify materials as either brittle or ductile.
    • model and observe movement of convection currents in the mantle causing plate movement.
    • analyze the causes and effects of volcanoes and classify them as constructive or destructive.
    • identify other catastrophic events associated with volcanoes.
    • model the movement of molten rock.
    • devise a definition for magma and lava.
    • classify volcanoes into groups depending on their properties.
    • develop a definition of viscosity.
    • identify and compare the viscosity of liquids.
    • relate the viscosity of lava to the type of volcano formed.
    • sort and classify igneous rocks.
    • examine, analyze and hypothesize about the crystals found in igneous rocks.
    • identify igneous rocks by name.
    • analyze the properties of volcanic ash and discuss how the properties reveal it's composition.
    • develop a working definition for ash.
    • investigate how volcanic particles erupt and settle out of the air depending on size.
    • determine how weather conditions affect the rate and direction in which ash moves.
    • identify constructive, destructive, atmospheric, and geological changes caused by volcanic eruptions.

    • Pre-assessment
    • 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.  Other options are below:
    •  Word walls
    •  Vocabulary flash cards
    •  Classroom mentors
    •  Differentiate rubrics for different learning levels
    •  Choice boards
    •  Jigsaw learning

    Interdisciplinary Connections:
    •   Using globes and maps to find weather and geological events
    •   Using Longitude and Latitude

       Language Arts

    •  Research and write a report on a specific catastrophic event of Earth
    •  Interpret weather quotations
    •  Identify word origins
    •  Weather journals
    •  Daily reflections
    •  Debates


    •  Study history of weather forecasting
    •  Explore effects of volcanoes and earthquakes throughout history
    •  Research naming of hurricanes


    •  Graphing of data throughout the unit 
    •  Collecting and working with weather data
    •  Measuring amplitudes of waves
    •  Calculating density

    Additional Resources:
    There are a multitude of weather, earthquake, volcano, and rock books available at all reading levels.  Many of these can be found at the local libraries and bookstores.