OpenSciEd®: Biology 2: Ecosystems: Matter & Energy 1-Class Unit Kit


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Biology. In Biology 2: Ecosystems: Matter & Energy, Carolina Certified Version*, students work to answer the Unit Driving Question: "What causes fires in ecosystems to burn, and how should we manage them?"

This unit is designed to deepen student understanding of the flow of matter and energy ecosystems and the cycling of carbon on a global scale due to increased fires. Students spend the first 6 lessons investigating the story of matter and energy in the peat/permafrost system. Students observe and burn peat, then investigate how it formed in the first place. This leads them to wonder why there is so much peat frozen in the permafrost and to conduct an investigation for decomposition by cellular respiration at different temperatures. Next, students grapple with how there could be so many plants in the cold Arctic and figure out that there was more solar radiation when the plants that formed the peat lived, allowing more plants to grow and photosynthesize. Students figure out that when there is enough sunlight, plants can store sugar in larger molecules like starch. With all of the evidence students have collected, they are now ready to revise their models for explaining how the zombie fires burn under ice and release so much carbon dioxide and energy. Students wonder if there are other carbon sinks that might be burning like the peat in zombie fires, so they look at maps of recent fires to figure out which locations might be productive to investigate. Students uncover that in all of these burning carbon sinks, there are either land use changes, drought, and/or higher temperatures. Students worry about what this means on a bigger scale and what the connection is between increased carbon dioxide and temperature. Students then conduct an investigation with varying levels of carbon dioxide, analyze data, and use a quantitative model to determine that there are feedback effects from human activity that increase carbon dioxide and temperature on a global scale. This motivates students to look for successful cases of fire management that disrupt the flow of matter and energy, so that they may design a fire management solution for a community they care about.

As part of the process of investigating "What causes fires in ecosystems to burn, and how should we manage them?", students:

  • Develop, use, and revise a model of the matter and energy flow in zombie fire systems so that they can apply this model to other carbon sinks and on a greater scale.
  • Construct an explanation for how there was enough matter and energy in the peat/permafrost system for a zombie fire to burn under ice.
  • Plan and carry out investigations to identify changes in matter and energy under different conditions in the system.
  • Design a solution to balance matter and energy in a community students care about.

This 1-Class Unit Kit comes with basic teacher access to instructional materials on, plus the materials needed for a teacher to teach 1 class of 32 students per day.

Building Toward NGSS Performance Expectations (PEs)

  • HS-LS1-5: Use a model to illustrate how photosynthesis transforms light energy into stored chemical energy.
  • HS-LS1-6: Construct and revise an explanation based on evidence for how carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen from sugar molecules may combine with other elements to form amino acids and/or other large carbon-based molecules.
  • HS-LS1-7: Use a model to illustrate that cellular respiration is a chemical process whereby the bonds of food molecules and oxygen molecules are broken and the bonds in new compounds are formed, resulting in a net transfer of energy.
  • HS-LS2-3: Construct and revise an explanation based on evidence for the cycling of matter and flow of energy in aerobic and anaerobic conditions.
  • HS-LS2-4: Use mathematical representations to support claims for the cycling of matter and flow of energy among organisms in an ecosystem.
  • HS-LS2-5: Develop a model to illustrate the role of photosynthesis and cellular respiration in the cycling of carbon among the biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere.
  • HS-ESS2-6†: Develop a quantitative model to describe the cycling of carbon among the hydrosphere, atmosphere, geosphere, and biosphere.
  • HS-ETS1-2†: Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.
†This performance expectation is developed across multiple courses.

Focal Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs)

  • Developing and Using Models
  • Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
  • Constructing Explanations
  • Designing Solutions

Focal Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs)

  • LS1.C: Organization for Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms
  • LS2.B Cycles of Matter and Energy Transfer in Ecosystems
  • PS3.D: Energy in Chemical Processes
  • ESS2.D: Weather and Climate
  • ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution

Focal Crosscutting Concepts

  • Systems and System Models
  • Energy and Matter

*All enhancements to materials and instruction for this Carolina Certified Version of the unit are approved by OpenSciEd® to preserve the integrity of the storyline and the instructional model.


Shipping Information or Purchase Restrictions
  • USDA or USDOT regulations restrict this item from shipping to these locations: Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin. If shipping to a restricted state we will replace Elodea with compatible plants. Canadian customers must apply for a Canada Department of Agriculture permit. Limited Qty: Flammable Liquid - This product is/contains a limited quantity of a DOT regulated hazardous material. This item will not incur a hazmat fee when shipped by ground. Orders shipping to HI and AK are subject to review and may incur additional shipping charges.
What’s Included:
  •  Living Materials Voucher, Ecosystems: Matter & Energy (for Elodea) (voucher item)
  •  Unit Technology Pack (basic digital access to teacher's guide and all instructional resources for the teacher)
  •  Alka-Seltzer® Tablets
  •  Aluminum Foil, 25-ft Roll
  •  Bags, Heavy-Duty, Resealable, Plastic, 1 pt
  •  Batteries, Alkaline, AAA
  •  Bowls, Tempered Glass, with Lids
  •  Bromthymol Blue Stock Solution, 0.04%, 30 mL
  •  Card Sets, Matter and Energy
  •  Card Sets, Matter and Energy Question
  •  Clamp Lamps, with Reflectors (without bulb)
  •  Ethanol, 95%, 500 mL
  •  Iodine Solution, 2%, 100 mL
  •  Lenses, Dual Hand
  •  Light Bulbs, Halogen, 100 W
  •  Light Bulbs, LED, 14 W
  •  Modeling Clay Assortment Packs
  •  Note Pads, Self-Adhesive, 3 x 3", Set of 5 Assorted Colors
  •  Note Pads, Self-Adhesive, Yellow, 3 x 3"
  •  Petri Dishes, 100 x 15 mm
  •  Petri Dishes, 60 x 15mm
  •  Plastic Wrap, Roll
  •  Rubber Bands, #16
  •  Rulers, Plastic, Metric (12")
  •  Spoons, Measuring, 1/4 tsp
  •  Sugar, Granulated, 10 oz
  •  Thermometer, Digital Pocket (with battery)
  •  Thermometer, Infrared (without batteries)
  •  Tubes, Centrifuge, Non-Sterile
  •  Yeast, Active Dry, 1/4-oz Packs
Return Policy:

If for any reason you are not satisfied with this item, it is eligible for a return, exchange, refund, or credit up to 180 days from date of purchase. Restrictions may apply. Returns & Exchanges Policy.