I teach an introductory unit on Matter and Energy before I begin teaching Earth Science concepts. Matter and Energy is one of NGSS Crosscutting Concepts. I don’t go in depth with the topic because our 8th grade content focuses on Chemistry, but I believe students need to have some background of what matter and energy is and how it connects what we learn in our Earth System Science classes. Our theme throughout the year is Within a natural system, the transfer of energy drives the motion and/or cycling of matter. Without matter and energy…well what else is there?
According to the NGSS crosscutting concept progressions across the grades, 6-8th grade students ” learn within a natural or designed system, the transfer of energy drives the motion and/or cycling of matter.” Everything I teach in a school year fits under this crosscutting concept! I refer to this phrase many times throughout the school year. I have students decode it and translate it into “6th grade language”. My favorite translation: “Energy makes stuff do stuff.” When we learn about earthquakes and volcanoes, continental drift, plate tectonics, rock cycle, atmospheric phenomena, climate change…students are always instructed to explain the energy source behind these happenings. One of the performance expectations of an Earth Science concept I teach in the spring is “MS-ESS2-4. Develop a model to describe the cycling of water through Earth’s systems driven by energy from the sun and the force of gravity”.
As you can see, how can I not introduce students to the basic concepts of matter and energy before we begin the more typical Earth Science content?
This is my unit’s progression. Eventually (see about me update) the posts will contain downloadable lesson plans but for now they are a collection of my resources and brief lesson descriptions.
MS-PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter
- What is Matter? Developing a student friendly definition
- Physical Properties of Matter (Mass, Volume, Density)
- Atoms and Molecules
- States of Matter