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 Science Help Make Our Lives Better?
In this high school unit on genetics and heredity, students explore muscular condition (Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy) common to a group of boys. Students questions about what causes this condition leads to investigations about the role of proteins, DNA, and inheritance in the disorder. In the first part of this unit students figure out how heritable traits and disorders are related to the structure and function of proteins. In the second part of this unit students investigatehow we can use genetic engineering technologies to cure genetic disorders and explore the ethical implications of need technologies such as, CRISPR-Cas9. (LS1, LS3)
How Do Small Changes Make Big Impacts on Ecosystems? (Part 1)
In this first part of a two-part 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 Do Small Changes Make Big Impacts on Ecosystems? (part 2)
In this first part of a two-part high school ecosystems unit, students investigate 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) that help students develop a model for how matter transformations and energy flow occurs in organisms and ecosystems. (LS1, LS2)
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