OpenSciEd: 6.6 Cells and Systems 1-Class Unit Kit


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Grades 6–8. In Unit 6.6 Cells and Systems, Carolina Certified Version*, students work to answer the Unit Driving Question: "How do living things heal?"

This unit on cells and systems begins with students reflecting on activities they do with their bodies and a time when something happened inside their body that prevented them from doing those activities. Students then obtain information from doctor's notes and images about a middle school student's injury and recovery. This prompts them to develop an initial model to explain, "What happens during the healing process so the student was able to use his foot again to walk, run, jump, and dance?" This initial work sets up students to ask questions to address, "How does the foot (or body) heal?"

Students begin by investigating the structures affected by injury in the foot, which leads them to figure out that when one part of the system is injured or broken, the whole system is affected and can't function the way it used to. This leads students to look closer at the parts of the foot, using medical images and cross sections, to figure out more about how the parts of the foot interact. In doing so, students discover that blood and nerves are present in each of the parts of the body they investigated. Students spend the next two lessons investigating the structure and function of blood and nerves, down to the cellular and subcellular level, gathering evidence for what is happening inside the healed or uninjured body. Students investigate the structure and function of skin, bone, and muscle at the cellular and subcellular level, which leads them to figure out that even though the structures and functions of each of these smaller structures within each body part are unique, there are similarities in cells across tissue type. In their first putting-the-pieces-together lesson, students use evidence to make a claim about whether other things in our world are also made up of cells. Through analyzing microscopic images, students figure out that the parts of living things they have looked at are made of cells, while the parts of nonliving things they looked at are not made of cells.

Students then launch into their questions about healing at the cellular level as the focus of the second lesson set. They develop and use a model of what is happening as cells grow and split to fill the gap from the injury with new cells. This motivates students to wonder about what cells need to grow and make more of themselves. Students analyze secondhand data about bacterial cell growth and obtain information about single-celled organisms to figure out that not only are cells living, but they can also exist on their own as single cells. This leads students to wonder how the things that cells need get into and out of the cell, so they once again use microscopes to see what is happening at the cellular and subcellular level.

Through these investigations, students will:

  • Ask questions that arise from careful observation of an example of healing to seek additional information about how healing happens.
  • Carry out investigations to observe the microscopic structures of cells and what is happening inside living systems and subsystems, at different scales.
  • Critically read scientific texts adapted for classroom use to obtain information about the structure and function of and interactions between and within systems in the human body, as well as in unicellular organisms.
  • Develop and use models to describe the healing process and other related phenomena.
  • Engage in argument from evidence that single-celled organisms grow and split in similar ways to animal cells.
  • Apply science ideas from the evidence collected by investigating healing to construct an explanation for how growth is happening at the bones in growth plates.

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

Building Toward NGSS Performance Expectations

  • MS-LS1-1: Conduct an investigation to provide evidence that living things are made of cells, either one cell or many different numbers and types of cells.
  • MS-LS1-2: Develop and use a model to describe the function of a cell as a whole and ways the parts of cells contribute to the function.
  • MS-LS1-3: Use argument supported by evidence for how the body is a system of interacting subsystems composed of groups of cells.
  • MS-LS1-8: Gather and synthesize information that sensory receptors respond to stimuli by sending messages to the brain for immediate behavior or storage as memories.

Science and Engineering Practices

  • Developing and Using Models
  • Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
  • Analyzing and Interpreting Data
  • Engaging in Argumentation

The following practices are also key to the sensemaking in the unit:

  • Asking Questions and Defining Problems
  • Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
  • Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

Focal Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • LS1.A
  • LS1.D

Focal Crosscutting Concepts

  • Scale, Proportion, and Quantity
  • Systems and System Models
  • Structure and Function

The following crosscutting concepts are also key to the sensemaking in this unit:

  • Patterns
  • Cause and Effect

*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.


What’s Included:
  •  Unit Technology Pack (basic digital access to teacher's guide and all instructional resources for the teacher)
  •  Bags, Plastic, Resealable, 9 x 12"
  •  Bags, Resealable, Plastic, 6 x 9"
  •  Card Sets, Blood
  •  Card Sets, Lesson 3 Reference Image
  •  Card Sets, Muscle-Bone-Skin
  •  Card Sets, Nerve
  •  Cards, Cells Splitting
  •  Cards, Microscopic Images of Various Objects
  •  Cards, Plant Cell Images
  •  Cards, Red Onion
  •  Forceps
  •  Microscope Slides, Human Blood
  •  Microscope Slides, Mammal Bone
  •  Microscope Slides, Skeletal Muscle
  •  Coverslips, Plastic
  •  Cup, Plastic, 7 oz
  •  Graph Paper
  •  Iodine Solution, 0.08 M, 2%
  •  Microscope Slides
  •  Note Pads, Self-Adhesive, 5 x 8", Lined
  •  Note Pads, Self-Adhesive, Medium
  •  Paper Clips, No. 1
  •  Pipets, Small Graduated
  •  Salt, 1-lb Box
  •  Tape, Transparent, 3/4" wide, Rolls
  •  Toothpicks, Round
Needed But Not Included:
Return Policy:

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