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Science Curriculum: Middle School

Science Elementary Curriculum

In Montgomery County Public Schools, the goal of the science program is for all students to achieve full scientific literacy through Next Generation Science Standards aligned and phenomenon-based instruction that will prepare them for success in college and career. The MCPS science curriculum was developed as a coherent learning progression from kindergarten through grade 12 where all students experience a rigorous, interdisciplinary approach to science content, exploring science through hands-on explorations, productive discourse, and purposeful reading and writing. Students apply content knowledge through the scientific and engineering practices to solve real world problems and develop the tools that will make them successful lifelong learners.


Grade Course Information

Investigations in Science 6 Course Overview

In Investigations in Science 6,  students will experience an interdisciplinary approach to science content, exploring all three domains of science (Earth/Space, Physical, and Life Sciences) through hands-on explorations, productive discourse, and purposeful reading and writing.  The curriculum is problem/project-based where students apply their understanding of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to propose solutions to real world phenomenon/problems.  Students are awarded 10 SSL hours at the completion of Grade 6 Science for their full participation in SSL activities related to their Outdoor Education experience.

Unit Title Content Focus
1

Matter and Its Interactions

Unit Driving Question(s):

How do particles combine to form the variety of matter one observes and make new substances?  What is energy and what is meant by conservation of energy?  How is energy transferred between objects or systems?  How does one characterize and explain these reactions and make predictions about them?

Performance Expectations: 

MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2, MS PS1-1, MS-PS1-2, MS-PS1-3, MS-PS1-4, MS-PS1-5, MS-PS1-6, MS-PS3-3, MS-PS3-4

Unit Anchoring Phenomena

The world is composed of matter and matter is made up of atoms and molecules that are attracted to each other and in constant motion.  Variations in motion are caused by changes in thermal (heat) energy.  Students will discover that the relationship between temperature and thermal energy depends on the types, states, and amounts of matter.  Students will explore simple chemical reactions that release and absorb energy and will discover that the breaking of certain bonds between atoms in the reactants create new products that conserve mass.  Students will apply their understanding of chemistry to a real-life situation and design a special effects display through the use of chemical properties and reactions.  

2

Ecosystems Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics

Unit Driving Question(s):

How do organisms interact with the living and nonliving environments to obtain matter and energy?  What happens to ecosystems when the environment changes?   How do matter and energy move through an ecosystem?  What happens to ecosystems when the environment changes?

Performance Expectations: 

MS-LS2-1, MS-LS2-2, MS-LS2-3, MS-LS2-4, MS-LS2-5

Unit Anchoring Phenomena

Students will explore the biodiversity and essential factors of different ecosystems and learn that a population consists of all species that occur together at a given place and time.  Students will investigate populations within food webs and categorize those populations as producers, consumers, and decomposers.  Students will learn that organisms compete for limited resources and that the number of organisms an ecosystem can support depends on the resources available.  Students will explore how competition may limit or generate the growth of populations in specific niches in the ecosystems.  They will use models to demonstrate the flow of matter and energy in an ecosystem.  Students will use this information to create and maintain a habitat for a local species.  

3

Human Impacts on the Environment

Unit Driving Question(s):

How do humans depend on Earth’s resources?  How do humans depend on Earth’s resources?  How do humans change the planet?

Performance Expectations: 

MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2, MS-ESS3-1, MS-ESS3-3MS-ESS3-4, MS-PS1-2

Unit Anchoring Phenomena

Students will discover that natural resources are used by living things in a variety of ways, but how much and in what ways we use those resources affects the footprint of our planet.  Students will learn that our use of fossil fuels has consequences on the environment.  Students will investigate how human activity and use of resources impacts the geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere and consider alternative solutions for the products we make and the resources we use.  They will model a solution to a variety of environmental problems created from natural resource use. 

4

Energy and Waves

Unit Driving Question(s):

How is energy transferred and conserved between objects or systems?  What are the characteristic properties and behaviors of waves?  What is light and how can one explain the varied effects that involve light?  What other forms of electromagnetic radiation are there?  How are instruments that transmit and detect waves used to extend human senses?

Performance Expectations: 

MS-PS2-3, MS-PS2-5, MS-PS3-2, MS-PS3-5, MS-PS4-1, MS-PS4-2, MS-PS4-3, MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2

Unit Anchoring Phenomena

Students will discover how alternative energy sources can be used to solve real world problems and design a solution.  They must consider the ideas of electricity, magnetism, electrical energy production, and conversions of different types of energy, in order to debate and choose the best source of alternative energy.  Students will explore the concepts of electricity and magnetism and the relationship between them. They will also investigate electrical energy and conclude it can be generated from a variety of sources and transferred into almost any form of energy.  Students will discover that energy travels in waves and explore how light and sound behave.  Students will use their design-folio to design a solution.

Investigations in Science 7 Course Overview (SCI1003)

In Investigations in Science 7,  students will experience an interdisciplinary approach to science content, exploring all two of the three domains of science (Life Sciences & Earth Science) through hands-on explorations, productive discourse, and purposeful reading and writing.  The curriculum is problem/project-based where students apply their understanding of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to propose solutions to real world phenomenon/problems.  

Unit Title Content Focus
1

Cellular Structure and Processes


Unit Driving Question(s):

How do the structures of organisms enable life’s functions?  How do organisms grow and develop?  How do organisms obtain and use the matter and energy they need to live and grow?  How do food and fuel provide energy?  If energy is conserved, why do people say it is produced or used?  

Performance Expectations: 

MS-LS1-1, MS-LS1-2, MS-LS1-4, MS-LS1-5, MS-LS1-6, MS-LS1-7

Unit Anchoring Phenomena

Students will research a process for growing plants without the use of soil called hydroponics. Students will investigate a variety of different systems and growing mediums for raising plants and will analyze such variables as growth rate and food production. Students will learn that plants grown using this method take in oxygen and nutrients at a quicker pace and use less energy to absorb them.  Plants will be used to introduce the structure and function of living organisms, and students will learn about the characteristics of living things, parts of the cell, and cellular processes.  Students will also learn what materials are required by living things, how the materials are delivered, and how these materials sustain life.

2

Matter and Energy Flow in Organism



Unit Driving Question(s):

How do the structures of organisms enable life’s functions?  How do organisms obtain and use the matter and energy they need to live and grow?  How do the systems of the human body function and perform basic life processes?  How do body systems work together as a cohesive unit to make life possible?

Performance Expectations: 

MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2, MS-ETS1-3, MS-LS1-3, MS-LS1-7, MS-LS1-8

Unit Anchoring Phenomena

Students will study the body systems of organisms and explore how the interactions of those systems affect overall functions.  Students will learn about the levels of organization within an organism and the contribution cells provide a system as the basic building blocks of life. Students will explore how matter and energy are  processed by organisms to build, maintain, and repair themselves.  Students will relate structure and function of body systems to nutritional requirements and disease prevention. 

3

Inheritance and Variation of Traits

Unit Driving Question(s):

How do organisms grow and develop?  How do organisms reproduce, (sexually or asexually) and transfer their genetic information to their offspring? What characteristic behaviors do animals perform that increase the odds of reproduction?  How are the characteristics of one generation related to the previous generation?  How does genetic variation among organisms affect survival and reproduction?  Why do individuals of the same species vary in how they look, function, and behave?

Performance Expectations: 

MS-ETS1-1, MS-LS1-4, MS-LS3-1, MS-LS3-2, MS-LS4-5

Unit Anchoring Phenomena

Students will study the principles of heredity and genetics.  They will learn how organisms reproduce and transfer their genetic information to their offspring. Students will study how characteristics get passed on from generation to generation and research several genetic disorders that affect human offspring.  Students will use biotechnical processes to explore the genetic characteristics of organisms.  Students will conduct a DNA extraction and a microarray will be performed as a way of checking the genotypes of the offspring.

4

Earth’s History and Evolution


Unit Driving Question(s):

How do people reconstruct and date events in Earth’s planetary history?  What evidence shows that different species are related?  How do Earth’s major systems interact?  How does genetic variation among organisms affect survival and reproduction?

Performance Expectations: 

MS-ESS1-4, MS-ESS2-2, MS-LS4-2, MS-LS4-3, MS-LS4-4, MS-LS4-5, MS-LS4-6, MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2

Unit Anchoring Phenomena

Students will study Earth’s history, geological time, and explore how organisms have evolved.  Students will examine the fossil record and construct explanations from mass extinctions.  Students will explore the concepts of natural selection and adaptation and will learn that traits of an organism can change as a result of environmental conditions or a need for survival.  Students will explore the similarities between organisms and use biotechnical processes, such as DNA fingerprinting, as means of identification. 

Investigations in Science 8 Course Overview (SCI1004)

In Investigations in Science 8,  students will experience an interdisciplinary approach to science content, exploring all two of the three domains of science (Physical & Earth Science) through hands-on explorations, productive discourse, and purposeful reading and writing.  The curriculum is problem/project-based where students apply their understanding of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to propose solutions to real world phenomenon/problems.  Students will take the Maryland Integrated Science Assessment (MISA) during March to assess their knowledge of the concepts learned throughout the middle school science curricular program.

Unit Title Content Focus
1

Weather and Climate


Unit Driving Question(s):

How do the properties and movements of water shape Earth’s surface and affect its systems? Within a natural or designed system, how does the transfer of energy drive the motion and/or cycling of the air and water?  What regulates weather and climate?  How do humans change the planet?

Performance Expectations: 

MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2, MS-ESS2-4, MS-ESS2-5, MS-ESS2-6, MS-ESS3-5

Unit Anchoring Phenomena

Weather and climate are influenced by interactions involving sunlight, the ocean, the atmosphere, ice, landforms, and living things. These interactions vary with latitude, local and regional geography, and affect oceanic and atmospheric flow patterns.  The resulting complex patterns are major determinants of local weather patterns.  Students will explore the many interactions and patterns of around the globe to better understand their effect on weather and climate.  Students will use their knowledge to develop a detailed report that outlines the severe weather risks for a specified location and develop a proposal that details two innovative and sustainable solutions that address the severe weather risks and match the unique needs of the local community. 

2

Earth’s Materials and Processes


Unit Driving Question(s):

How and why is Earth constantly changing?  How do Earth’s major systems interact?  How do the properties and movements of water shape Earth’s surface and affect its systems?   How do people reconstruct and date events in Earth’s planetary history?  Why do the continents move, and what causes earthquakes and volcanoes?  How do natural hazards affect individuals and societies?  How do humans depend on Earth’s resources?  

Performance Expectations: 

MS-ESS2-1, MS-ESS2-2, MS-ESS2-3, MS-ESS3-1, MS-ESS3-2

Unit Anchoring Phenomena

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 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. From earthquakes and volcanoes to weathering and erosion, These interactions have shaped Earth’s history and will determine its future.  Students will learn concepts that enable them to evaluate the potential causes and effects of human-induced earthquakes and  develop a complete public service campaign plan that will help residents and lawmakers understand the best ways to reduce human-induced earthquakes in Maryland and its neighboring states.

3

Forces, Motion, and Interactions


Unit Driving Question(s):

How can one predict an object’s continued motion, changes in motion, or stability?  What are ways that we can describe an object's motion?  What is the law of inertia and how does that apply to the real world?  What is meant by for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction?  How do mass and velocity affect the momentum and acceleration of an object?  What is energy and how is it transferred and conserved?

Performance Expectations: 

MS- ETS 1-1, MS-PS2-1, MS-PS2-2, MS-PS3-1, MS-PS3-2, HS-PS2-3

Unit Anchoring Phenomena

Forces, motion, and interactions encompasses the mechanical branch of physics, studying the nature of forces and its impact on the motion of objects.  Students will learn that the motion of an object is determined by the sum of the forces acting on it and that the greater the mass of the object, the greater the force needed to achieve the same change in motion. For any given object, a larger force causes a larger change in motion. Forces on an object can also change its shape or orientation.  Using these learned concepts, students will create a design for an advanced rocket capable of launching large payloads and crew to Earth’s orbit. 

4

Earth, the Solar System, and the Universe

Unit Driving Question(s):

What is the universe, and what is Earth’s place within it?  What is the universe and what goes on in stars?  What are the predictable patterns caused by Earth’s movement in the solar system?  What makes up our solar system and how can the motion of Earth explain seasons and eclipses?

Performance Expectations: 

MS-ESS1-1, MS-ESS1-2, MS-ESS1-3, MS-ESS2-1, MS-PS1-4, MS-PS2-4, MS-PS2-5 MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2, MS-ETS1-3

Unit Anchoring Phenomena

Students will learn that the solar system consists of the sun and a collection of objects of varying sizes and conditions including planets and their moons that are held in orbit around the sun by its gravitational pull on them.  Much of the unit will focus on how the Earth and the moon, sun, and planets have predictable patterns of movement. These patterns, which are explainable by gravitational forces and conservation laws, in turn explain many large-scale phenomena observed on the Earth, moon, and other planets.  Students will be able to explain that patterns of the apparent motion of the sun, the moon, and stars in the sky can be observed, described, predicted, and explained with models.  The universe began with a period of extreme and rapid expansion known as the Big Bang. Earth and its solar system are part of the Milky Way galaxy, which is one of many galaxies in the universe.  Students will use their learning to design a realistic movie set that would simulate a habitable human settlement on another planet.