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Science
     Tolland Public Schools recognizes the importance of a strong, aligned K-12 Science program, and embraces the Next Generation Science Standards. The NGSS is organized into grade level Performance Expectations that weave Disciplinary Core Ideas (content), Science and Engineering Practices (skills), and Cross-cutting Concepts (overarching scientific principles) together, requiring teachers to facilitate students' learning of science by allowing them to "do" science. Each grade's Performance Expectations are organized into units, each with one or more anchoring phenomena that engage and excite students to learn scientific concepts and employ scientific and engineering practices in order to fully explain the phenomenon or meet a design challenge. Students will be exposed to all Performance Expectations necessary to be prepared for the CT NGSS Science Assessment given in the spring of Grade 8.

In grade 6, 

Unit 1- Lyme Disease- Students study the transmission and prevention of Lyme Disease while learning about the characteristics of living things, cell structure and function, organism relationships, and body systems. At the end of the unit students use their learning to design a park that may prevent or limit the transmission of Lyme disease, and how they can provide information to park goers about the disease. 

Unit 2- Destructive Weather- Students investigate the forces and process involved in the development of destructive weather phenomena. Students will learn about large-scale cycles on Earth like the water cycle, as well as the flow of the sun's energy among Earth systems, and how these play a role in weather and climate. Students also learn the basics of weather forecasting. The unit culminates with an analysis of CT weather data and the increase in destructive weather events. 

Unit 3- Closed Beach- Students explore the events that can lead to the closing of a swimming area. The unit focuses on a range of ecological topics including matter cycles, energy flow, food webs, photosynthesis, limiting resources, biodiversity, and human impact. Once students have an understanding of all these concepts we tie it all together with a project to explain why a local Recreational Area is closed and provide possible solutions based on research, reasoning, and evidence.  

   

In Grade 7,

Unit 1- Change Over Time- In this large "unit", students study many different aspects of things changing over time. Topics include: The formation of the universe and solar system; The Earth, Sun, Moon system; Plate tectonics and the rock cycle; Fossils and evolution. During the course of the unit, students will model and explain how seasons occur, how we use fossil records and radiometric dating to understand Earth's history, how characteristics of living things are important to their survival, and what the CT geologic map tells us about the geologic events that led to the formation of CT. 

Unit 2- Birds- The unit focuses of the birds of paradise and the incredible plummages, dances, and calls involved in their mating rituals. Students learn about genetic variation and transmission of traits, how genetics and the environment affect growth, and interactions between organisms in ecosystems. By the end of the unit, students will be able to explain why a lack of predators allows these birds to have such conspicuous traits and behaviors, and how the introduction of a predator might affect them over time. 


In Grade 8, 

Unit 1- Collisions- This unit is composed of small "mini units" focused on types of forces and their role in collisions. Students are engaged in analyzing car collisions to understand how mass and speed play a role in collisions, and will study and design protective barriers to minimize the effects of car collisions. Students then investigate electric and magnetic forces by building electromagnets, and looking at their role in the world today.

Unit 2- Waves- Students explore the properties of sound and light, and the role that waves play in each of them. They will also learn about analog vs. digital waves and why the use of digital waves has improved our ability to communicate. 

Unit 3-  Energy Drinks- Students are engaged in a discussion about the effects of energy drinks on kids today. The unit introduces concepts including states of matter, thermal and kinetic energy, the structure of matter, chemical reactions, and human nutrition and biochemistry. Ultimately students compare energy drinks to coffee and soda, and develop their argument for or against the regulation of energy drinks for anyone under 16 years old. 

Unit 4- Dog Breeds- Students are engaged in investigating the evolution of domestic dogs from wolves, as well as the development of dog breeds. This unit builds on their prior understandings of genetics, the transmission of traits, and evolution, and includes the role of DNA in traits, comparative anatomy and embryology in the development of evolutionary trees, and the effect of genetic variations on the survival and reproduction rates of individuals and species. Students will use their understandings of natural selection to analyze the techniques used by humans in artificial selection to develop dog breeds.



For further details and information about the NGSS, see the links below.
NGSS K-12 Performance Expectations- Organized by grade level and core ideas
Science and Engineering Practices Learning Progressions- details about each of the 8 practices, as well as how these important skills are expected to develop during the course of a student's K-12 education.
Cross-cutting Concept Learning Progressions- details how students develop an understanding of these key scientific principles across disciplines during the course of a student's K-12 education.


Mark Ruede
Curriculum Supervisor of Science
mruede@tolland.k12.ct.us