Why do some things get colder (or hotter) when they react?
This high school physical sciences unit on chemical energy starts out with students exploring a phenomenon where mixing two room temperature substances together results in a dramatic drop in temperature. This leads to disagreements as to what is happening that causes thermal energy to "disappear"—what is that energy being used to do? This question motivates a series of investigations examining salt dissolution and using magnets as a model for both inter-molecular and intra-molecular bonds. (PS1, PS3)
Why Don't Antibiotics Work Like They Used To?
This high school unit on natural selection and evolution starts out with students exploring the case of a young girl with a life-threatening infection of pan-resistant bacteria. This case sparks questions that lead them to investigate the growing prevalence of such cases and the discrepancies between antibiotic use in their communities and CDC recommendations. As they develop a model to explain how bacteria populations change over time, they expand their investigations to look at whether similar population changes are occurring in a population of birds (Juncos). (LS4)
(How) Can Planting Trees Reduce the Human Impacts on Climate Change?
[Coming Soon - anticipated release date in Spring of 2018] This high school unit on ecosystems starts out with students investigating the claim that planting trees can help combat climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide and storing carbon in wood. Students’ questions about where and how trees do this, sparks a series of investigations to pursue to track down where the carbon is going as it moves into and through different tissues in the tree (leaves, wood, and roots). In the second part of the unit, students are challenged to choose a tree to plant that will maximize biodiversity and ecosystem services in their own schoolyard or neighborhood. Students conduct field research, documenting organisms and interactions in urban ecosystems around their school and where they live. They use the evidence they collected from investigations into photosynthesis, soil, and biodiversity to develop an argument for which tree best meets the criteria of the design challenge. (LS1, LS2)
Why Do Some Populations Grow, Some Collapse, and Others Remain Stable in the Same Ecosystem?
[Coming Soon - anticipated release date in Spring of 2018] In this high school ecosystems unit, students start out examining data of the buffalo population in the Serengeti over the past fifty years. Competing ideas for why the population skyrocketed in a short period of time and then collapsed sometime later motivates students to investigate a variety of additional data sources. Exploration of each new data source raises further questions, and more potential suspects to investigate. As each new suspect is tracked down (resource competition, climate change, seasonal rainfall patterns, predators, disease, and fire), students incrementally develop a more and more complex ecosystem model that accounts for why some populations grow, some collapse, and others remain stable in the same ecosystem. (LS2)
How Can We Produce a Bunch of Fog for a Scary Scene?
[Coming Soon - anticipated release date in Spring of 2018]
In this high school physical sciences unit on the particulate nature of matter and kinetic molecular theory, students explore the phenomenon of fog with an end goal of designing and building an affordable and safe fog machine. The goal motivates students to figure out more about natural fog through a series of investigations related to weather data and properties of air and water. Their discoveries help them develop particle-level concepts related to temperature, thermal energy, and pressure. These understandings help students' explain how natural and artificial fog is formed and these explanations inform their engineering designs. (PS3, ETS1)