OpenSciEd: 7.6 Earth's Resources and Human Impact 5-Class Unit Kit


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Grades 6–8. In Unit 7.6 Earth's Resources and Human Impact, Carolina Certified Version*, students work to answer the Unit Driving Question: "How do changes in Earth's system impact our communities and what can we do about it?"

This unit on Earth's resources and human impact begins with students observing news stories and headlines of drought and flood events across the United States. Students figure out that these drought and flood events are not normal and that both kinds of events seem to be related to rising temperatures. This prompts students to develop an initial model to explain how rising temperatures could cause both droughts and floods and leads them to wonder what could cause rising temperatures, too. This initial work sets up students to ask questions related to the query: How do changes in Earth's system impact our communities, and what can we do about it?

Students spend the first lesson set gathering evidence for how a change in temperature affects evaporation, precipitation, and other parts of Earth's water system. They use evidence to support a scientific explanation that two climate variables (temperature and precipitation) are changing precipitation patterns in the case sites they investigated. Students apply these ideas to related phenomena—sea ice decline and wildfires—in the Arctic. In the second lesson set, students launch into their questions about rising temperatures. They analyze data about atmospheric gas concentrations, how gases relate to atmospheric temperature, and how present-day human activities are changing the concentration of those gases. Students develop and use a model of Earth's carbon system to explain how carbon dioxide accumulates in the atmosphere. Students figure out that the rising temperatures are caused by an imbalance in Earth�s carbon system.

Students are ready to solve the problem in the final lesson set. While students can define the problem as a carbon imbalance, they realize that obvious solutions, such as eliminating fossil fuel use, are actually much more complicated than at first glance. This motivates students to evaluate different kinds of solutions and how they are implemented in communities. Students work through a systematic evaluation process to consider (1) each solution's potential to solve the carbon imbalance, (2) trade-offs associated with solutions based on student-identified constraints, and (3) whether the solution in question makes sense for their community's stakeholders.

Through these investigations, students will:

  • Analyze and interpret data that indicate long-term climate variables (temperature and precipitation) are changing in communities.
  • Develop and use models to explain how changing variables in Earth's water and carbon systems are impacting human communities that depend on those systems.
  • Construct an explanation for how increased temperatures can cause changes to a community's water resources.
  • Argue from evidence that rising temperatures result from an imbalance in Earth's carbon system.
  • Define the problem as an imbalance in Earth's carbon system due to greenhouse gas accumulation, with no easy solutions to quickly fix it.
  • Evaluate a variety of solutions based on how well they meet the criteria of reducing the carbon imbalance, given the many societal constraints students identified.
  • Communicate about a community resilience plan designed to account for stakeholders' needs while also correcting carbon imbalances and adapting to changes currently experienced in the community.

This 5-Class Unit Kit includes basic teacher access to instructional materials on, plus the materials needed to teach 5 classes of 32 students per day (160 students).

Building Toward NGSS Performance Expectations

  • MS-ESS3-1: Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how the uneven distributions of Earth's mineral, energy, and groundwater resources are the result of past and current geoscience processes.
  • MS-ESS3-3: Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.
  • MS-ESS3-4: Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth's systems.
  • MS-ESS3-5: Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.
  • MS-ETS1-2: Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.

Focal Science and Engineering Practices

  • Asking Questions and Defining Problems
  • Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking
  • Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
  • Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Scientific Information

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

  • Developing and Using Models
  • Analyzing and Interpreting Data
  • Engaging in Argument from Evidence

Focal Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • ESS3.A
  • ESS3.C
  • ESS3.D
  • ETS1.B

Focal Crosscutting Concepts

  • Stability and Change
  • Cause and Effect
  • Scale, Proportion, and Quantity

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

  • Patterns
  • 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.


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"
  •  Card Sets, Carbon Solution
  •  Card Sets, Drought and Flood
  •  Card Sets, Fuel Molecule
  •  Card Sets, Water Solution
  •  Cards, Quick Reference
  •  Dice, Standard, 16 mm
  •  Hacksaw, 12", with Extra Blades
  •  Humidity Probes
  •  Lenses, Dual Hand
  •  Pencil Sets, Assorted Colors
  •  Trays, Ice Cube
  •  Bromthymol Blue Solution, 0.01%, 100 mL
  •  Cups, Plastic, 2-1/2 oz, with Lid
  •  Cups, Plastic, 9 oz
  •  Hand Warmers, Mini
  •  Labels, 1/4", Assorted Colors
  •  Note Pad, Self-Adhesive, Large
  •  Note Pads Set, Self-Adhesive, Medium, Assorted Colors
  •  Note Pads, Self-Adhesive, 5 x 8", Lined
  •  Petri Dishes, 100 x 15 mm
  •  Pipe Cleaners, 30 cm (12")
  •  Ultra-Velcro®, Hook Strip
  •  Ultra-Velcro®, Loop Strip
  •  Weighing Dishes, Aluminum
Needed But Not Included:
Return Policy:

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