How is all life related? The central question for 7th gr. scientists.

August 23, 2010 at 9:05 PM Leave a comment

Course Outline: 7th Grade Project-Based Science 2010-11

How is all life related?

Sue Boudreau, Karen Snelson, Orinda Intermediate School  8.20.2010 I. Introduction.

  • Mini Poster Project: How will 7th gr. science get you to your future?
  • Survey: How will your curiosity, science skills and knowledge change over the year?

II. The “Grow Food” Project.

  • Investigation: What is alive in compost? How can we tell? What do living things need?
  • Objective, subjective, quantitative and qualitative observations.
  • Brainstorm & research: What do plants need? What are problems with growing plants around here? What do we need to find out? What crops will grow in fall round here?
  • Investigation: What exactly is ‘dirt’? How does it affect plant growth?
  • Outside: How can you amend ordinary dirt to make it grow food?
  • Project management for making a meal and growing food.
  • Home-Grown Food Project: Grow something to eat! Which farming practice works best?
  • Farming practices and gardening skills to maximize plant growth and food production.
  • Scientific Survey: Design a taste test of organic, home-grown and regular foods.

III. The needs of life, cells and the start of life

  • How do you see cells? How big are they? How different are they?
  • Investigations: Find and identify microscopic life in pond scum, dirt and ‘alien slime’.
  • Review life’s needs, hallmarks, including energy needs and respiration.
  • How do plant and animal cells meet the needs of life?
  • Model making: Prokaryote, eukaryote, plant and animal candy cells.
  • Simulation game: The lollipop factory ‘cell’.
  • How & when did life evolve?
  • How is life classified into kingdoms? Where do we fit?

IV. How do microbes affect us? Epidemiology unit.

  • Patterns of disease in the past and now.
  • Using scientific problem-solving to make life better: The Pellagra Story
  • Protists, bacteria and viruses – what are they? How do they affect us?
  • Microscope Research: Identify microbes under the microscope.
  • How infectious epidemics spread, and how they can be stopped, especially the ‘flu.
  • Agar Plate Investigations: Where are the dirtiest places? What are the best ways to clean up pathogens?
  • Why don’t we get sick all the time? The ‘flu and your immune system.
  • The discovery and use of antibiotics. Evolution of antibiotic resistance.
  • How are new drugs developed and tested on people?
  • Evaluating health claims and reliable websites.
  • Simulations: The placebo effect. Infectious epidemic ‘game’.
  • PowerPoint Project: Research and educate others about a disease you choose.

V. The Take Action Project

  • How are we connected to nature?
  • What world problems do YOU want to fix?
  • What could you DO that would work AND be fun?
  • Use your project management skills  and science knowledge and skills to make the world a better place! We’ll show you, guide you and let you go at it.

VI. How are we related to each other? Genetics, Reproduction and HIV.

  • Variation, nature and nurture.
  • Sexual and asexual reproduction.
  • Project: Trace a trait through your family tree.
  • From egg to adult in humans and animal comparisons.
  • Sex and Risk – HIV trends, science of HIV. Orinda risk stories, decision-making
  • Dissection: Find how plants reproduce sexually with the flower dissection.
  • Ethics Debate: The pros and cons of science ethical issues in the news. TBA.

VI. How are we related to all life ecologically? Biodiversity unit.

  • Review what affects biodiversity.
  • What is a species? What isn’t?
  • Learn to use field guides to do a better estimate of local biodiversity.
  • Survey local biodiversity at school, home. What affects local biodiversity?
  • Class Challenge: Make a local food web from home species observations and research.
  • Where does our food come from?
  • What species do we eat? Survey the biodiversity of groceries.
  • What is happening to biodiversity? Why? How will that affect us? What can we do?
  • Photo Assignment: Stalk an animal in it’s natural habitat. Take a beautiful picture. Find out about it and make it part of a local food web of yarn.
  • Powerpoint for TAP: Research and present a science related issue you care about. Pick an issue to take informed and effective action on.

VII. How are we related to all life through evolution?

  • How are we related to other primates? Compare behavior and skulls to make a cladogram.
  • How are we related to other vertebrates?
  • Compare embryos and proteins to find more evidence for evolution.
  • Observe and infer relationships from fossils.
  • Has biodiversity changed over time? Learn about the history of life.
  • Who was Charles Darwin and what did he have to say?
  • How did life change over time? Natural selection games.
  • Simulations: Natural selection games.
  • Strip of Time Project: to show the history of life and see how long we’ve been here.
  • Dissection: Compare our arm to chicken wings for evidence of relatedness.
  • Dog Day: Compare our anatomy to dog anatomy and see where we all fit on a cladogram.
  • Photo Assignment: Take a picture of your favorite animal. How close is it related to us?
  • TAP Poster: Show you made a difference with a Take Action Project poster for Open House

VIII. The Pathway to Perception – Light and optics unit.

  • How does light travel?
  • Bending light, how your eyes work.
  • Causes, prevention and correction of vision problems.
  • Evolution of eyes.
  • Is seeing believing? What affects your perception? Optical illusions.
  • Light box investigations: The law of reflection, refraction, correcting vision.
  • Photo Assignment: Snap an unusual example of reflection, refraction and optical illusions.


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