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6th Grade Issues and Earth Science:

Issues and Earth Science is part of a comprehensive three-year middle level science series from SEPUP. Like its companion courses, the program uses societal issues and problems as themes for the study of earth science. It is standards-based and can be used alone or in combination with other SEPUP courses. Like all SEPUP programs, it features an activity-based approach and is available with a complete equipment kit that supports up to 160 students before consumable replacements are needed. It features a nationally acclaimed assessment program and an embedded approach for supporting literacy in the science classroom.

A. Studying Soils Scientifically

Students study the properties of different types of soils in the context of preparing a school garden. They investigate soil profiles, organic and inorganic components, use of fertilizers, and soil mapping.

B. Rocks and Minerals
Students investigate properties of rocks and minerals as they consider questions related to use of our natural resources. Physical properties of individual specimens, such as luster, hardness, and color are investigated, as are main rock types— sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic— and how rocks change from one form to another in the rock cycle.

C. Erosion and Deposition
Students investigate the destructive forces of wind, wave and water on landforms as they decide where to build homes. Stream tables and topographic maps are used, respectively, to study river action and deposition of sediments, and landform contours.

D. Plate Tectonics
Students explore the structure of the earth— the core, mantle, and crust, and learn how the slow movements of large plates of the earth’s surface help shape its features, including continents and oceans. They investigate earthquakes and volcanoes as they examine plans to deposit radioactive wastes in areas of relative seismic stability.

E. Weather and Atmosphere
Students investigate local and extreme weather conditions, climate and rainfall patterns, wind, the water cycle, and examine the root cause of weather and climate, namely the distribution of solar energy over the earth. Wind and the atmosphere are studied in depth.

F. The Earth in Space
Students study the earth’s rotation, the causes of the seasons, shadows, movement of the moon, actions and causes of the tides, and review several calendars developed over the years to mark the passage of time.

G. Exploring the Solar System
Students explore the earth’s role in the solar system, our planetary neighbors, the night sky, gravity, remote sensing, relative and absolute distances, and issues in space travel.

7th Grade Issues and Life Science:

Students will find that many of the issues they will study in Issues and Life Science (IALS) appear frequently in the media and even on election ballots. IALS does not tell students what decisions to make, instead, it provides them with knowledge, skills, and understanding that will help them to make their own informed decisions.
  • How do you decide what type(s) of medication, if any, to take when you are ill?
  • What can you do to reduce the risk of catching an infectious disease?
  • Would you want to find out if you have a genetic disease?
  • How might you accidentally introduce a new species into a local ecosystem?

Relevant issues provide a framework for student work and reflection and a context in which to understand concepts.

A. Experimental Design: Studying People Scientifically
Student investigations address important ideas about the nature of science, the traditional scientific method and experimental design. At the end of the unit, they evaluate several proposed studies for the quality of their scientific design.

B. Body Works
Students explore the role of organ systems in providing nutrients and oxygen to the body and transporting and eliminating wastes (maintaining internal balance). The unit focuses in-depth on the cardiopulmonary system as students investigate heart disease, nutrition and exercise.

C. Cell Biology and Disease
Students study microbiology; cell size, structure, function and permeability; and systems of classification. They explore the function of the immune system and the growth of antibiotic-resistant organisms. A project on disease develops research skills.

D. Genetics
Students explore fundamental principles of Mendelian genetics in pea plants and humans. They study asexual and sexual reproduction, the process of cell division, and the role of nature and nurture in determining traits. Near the end, students model the use of DNA technologies to solve real problems.

E. Ecology
Students consider what happens when a new species is introduced into an ecosystem as they model ecological relationships within an ecosystem; simulate the effect of competition, predation and other factors on population size; and investigate local ecosystems.

F. Evolution
Students consider whether an extinct species should be brought back to life as they examine fossils, consider the lines of evidence for evolution, natural selection, and the role of genetic mutations. Students evaluate the impact of humans on the extinction/evolution of species.

G. Bioengineering
Students consider how biotechnology can improve the lives of humans as they adapt to their external environment. Students construct, evaluate and revise their prototypes of tools and products as they explore the design process. The contributions of various individuals to the fields of science and biotechnology are presented and discussed.

8th Grade Constructing Ideas In Physical Science

UNIT 1: Foundations

The first unit introduces students to scientific experiments, and to the concepts of interactions and properties.

In activities involving pendulums and magnets, students learn how to carry out experiments, determine whether an experiment is well designed, and judge whether an experimental conclusion is logical and well reasoned.

To introduce the idea of interactions, the first unit gives students opportunities to investigate four types of interactions:

  • magnetic,
  • electric charge,
  • electric circuit, and
  • electromagnetic

In the process of learning about these interactions, students construct and analyze motors and electromagnets.

Later in this unit, students learn about the importance of measurement in science, methods of measuring volume, mass and density, and characteristic properties.

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UNIT 2:  Interactions and Energy

The second unit explores energy descriptions of interactions. Waves of various types are investigated - mechanical, water, sound and earthquake waves - and then students learn about the four types of mechanical interactions:

  • applied
  • elastic
  • drag
  • friction

and they conduct experiments to examine variables that affect the interactions. They also learn how to write and evaluate analyses and explanations.

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UNIT 3:  Interactions and Forces

In this unit, students learn how to describe mechanical interactions in terms of forces, and develop ideas that lead to Newton's First and Second Laws of Motion. The unit employs appealing contexts such as skateboarding, bike riding, and playing soccer to discuss these ideas.

Then students learn about gravitational interactions and circular motion. They end the unit by explaining phenomena like satellite orbits and terminal speed.

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UNIT 4:  Interactions and Conservation

Throughout the second and third units, students learn about energy transfers between objects, and the idea that energy can change from one form to another.

In the fourth unit, students first learn about the idea of conservation in the contexts of mass and volume. Then, after examining interactions that involve heat transfer, they extend the conservation idea to energy.

The unit begins with an introduction to mass and volume as measures of the "amount of stuff." Then students investigate several types of interactions to see if mass and volume are conserved.

Next, students investigate thermal and infrared radiation interactions, both of which involve heat transfer, and study phase changes (such as water freezing to become ice). Knowledge of heat energy exchange gives students the final tool they need to examine the idea of energy conservation.

Students end the unit by applying conservation ideas to concepts like energy efficiency.

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UNIT 5:  Interactions of Materials

Students begin the final unit by describing and classifying materials, and then becoming familiar with the classification scheme of chemists and the periodic table.

Then they learn about the Small Particle Theory of matter, which students use to explain:

  • the properties of gases, liquids, and solids;
  • the phenomena of air pressure and dissolving; and
  • the classification of materials as elements and compounds.

The importance of models, which was introduced implicitly in earlier units, is revisited and made explicit in relation to Small Particle Theory.

Finally, students experiment with chemical interactions that produce new substances, and build physical models of the reactants and products in these interactions.

Conservation Science:

Is a science elective unique to MTM. Students have an opportunity to participate in "green" projects in MTM's 4-acre outdoor science Earth Lab. This elective is open to 7th and 8th grade students.