OpenSciEd®: Chemistry 1: Thermodynamics in Earth's Systems 1-Class Unit Kit


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Chemistry. In Chemistry 1: Thermodynamics in Earth's Systems, Carolina Certified Version*, students work to answer the Unit Driving Question: "How can we slow the flow of energy on Earth to protect vulnerable coastal communities?"

This unit is anchored by students exploring coastal communities that are affected by rising sea levels, which are forcing some communities to move. Students analyze data that show how sea level rise is historically connected to polar ice melt and temperature increases, and through data and investigation determine that the temperature increase is caused by humans releasing excess carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. They are introduced to two possible solutions and figure out how these solutions, along with decreasing carbon dioxide emissions, could help slow sea level rise. Students figure out how energy transfers on the molecular level as well as on the Earth-systems level through radiation, convection, and conduction.

Throughout the unit, students:

  • Develop an energy transfer model based on evidence to illustrate how atmospheric carbon dioxide, more than any other factor, causes global temperature increases, polar ice melt, and sea level rise.
  • Use mathematical and computational thinking and investigation to predict and explain the likely impact of matter transfer from the cryosphere to the hydrosphere.
  • Apply scientific ideas to examine, explain, and ask questions about two design solutions for polar ice melt.
  • Develop an energy transfer model that shows how microbeads could interrupt the feedback loop in which areas with melting polar ice reradiate more infrared light, which is absorbed by carbon dioxide, causing even greater temperatures and more polar ice melt.
  • Consider and ask questions about the many feedback loops in and between Earth's systems.
  • Evaluate complementary information about glacier melt from Inuit hunters and fishers and NASA scientists.
  • Use mathematical thinking to derive and compare densities for water at different temperatures and salinities.
  • Collaboratively design and plan an investigation using a computer model to produce simulated data as evidence to figure out what is happening at a particle level when two pieces of matter come in contact that are at different temperatures.
  • Use digital tools to computationally analyze data to determine and predict the amount of ice melt when we know the mass and temperature of the water that's in contact with the ice.
  • Develop and use particle and energy transfer models to provide mechanistic accounts for how the berm geoengineering solution can help reduce glacier melt.
  • Develop the outlines of and use a computational climate model that reflects all the main ideas from the unit, in order to answer questions about the impacts of human activities.

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-PS3-1†: Create a computational model to calculate the change in the energy of one component in a system when the change in energy of the other component(s) and energy flow in and out of the system are known.
  • HS-PS3-4: Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence that the transfer of thermal energy when two components of different temperatures are combined within a closed system results in a more uniform energy distribution among the components in the system (second law of thermodynamics).
  • HS-ESS2-2: Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth's surface can create feedback that causes changes to other Earth systems.
  • HS-ESS2-4†: Use a model to describe how variations in the flow of energy into and out of Earth's systems result in changes in climate.
  • HS-ESS2-7†: Construct an argument based on evidence about the simultaneous coevolution of Earth's systems and life on Earth.
  • HS-ESS3-1**: Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity.
  • HS-ESS3-5: Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts on Earth systems.
  • HS-ESS3-6†: Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity.
**This performance expectation is developed across multiple OpenSciEd units.
†This performance expectation is developed across multiple OpenSciEd courses.

Focal Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs)

  • Asking Questions and Defining Problems
  • Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
  • Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking

Focal Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs)

  • PS3.D: Energy in Chemical Processes
  • ESS1.B: Earth and the Solar System
  • ESS2.A: Earth Materials and Systems
  • ESS2.D: Weather and Climate
  • ESS2.E: Biogeology
  • ESS3.A: Natural Resources
  • ESS3.B: Natural Hazards
  • ESS3.D: Global Climate Change

Focal Crosscutting Concepts

  • 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)
  •  Alka-Seltzer® Tablets
  •  Clamp Lamps, with Reflector (without bulb)
  •  Containers, Deli, 24 oz
  •  Cup Lids, for Styrofoam® 8-oz Cups
  •  Cups, Plastic, 9 oz
  •  Cups, Styrofoam®, 8 oz
  •  Digital Pocket Thermometers
  •  Dry-Erase Marker Sets, Expo®
  •  Earth Squish Balls, without Labels
  •  Food Coloring, Assorted Colors
  •  Labels, Round, 1/4", Assorted Colors
  •  Light Bulbs, Halogen, 100 W
  •  Modeling Clay Assortment Packs
  •  Note Pads, Self-Adhesive, Yellow, 3 x 3"
  •  Paper, Construction, Black, 9 x 12"
  •  Paper, Construction, White, 9 x 12"
  •  Paper, Graphing Chart, 25 x 30" Pad
  •  Pipets, Graduated, 3 mL
  •  Plastic Bags, Self-Locking
  •  Plastic Wrap, Roll
  •  Rubber Bands, #16
  •  Rulers, See-Through Plastic, 12"
  •  Salt, 1-lb Box
  •  Stoppers, Rubber, #4, with 1 Hole
  •  Tape, Magic®, 3/4" W, 8.3-yd Rolls
  •  Timers, Student
  •  Trays, Ice Cube
  •  Twine, Cotton, Roll
  •  Whiteboards, Mini
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.