Unit 1 Overview


         Focus: Things happen in the world for a reason! Science is a method for exploring the reasons that things happen.


Key Themes/Strands


I.   Safety/Management Guidelines

     Working in cooperative learning groups


II.  Observation vs. Inference

Activity: series of penny activities (drawing key features)

Activity: objects from a single location

Activity: "Notes from an Extraterrestrial


III. Types of data:

Quantitative: measurement – grams, liters, meters, time, and temperature (metric)

Qualitative: using the 5 senses

Activity: stations that require the acquisition of data using only one of the five senses.


IV. History of the Universe/Solar System: Geologic Time

Activity: Timeline (several choices)

Resource: Human Evolution Coloring Book


V.   How to do Science

Investigable questions lead to either performing a systematic investigation or an experiment


Activities: FOSS kit on Models.


Graphing, charting, writing, and drawing.



History of the Universe

Formation of the Solar System

Earth History: introduce the concept of geologic time


History of Science

Early models of our world (atom, stars, etc. much of this from various GEMS guides).

Nullius in verba

States of Matter

Particulate model of matter

Energy transfer

Phase changes

Solid, liquid, and Gas

(continuum activities with oobleck and silly putty should probably be done with the Plate Tectonics unit)

Activity: see “Dry Ice” GEMS guides.


Unique structure and chemistry of water

Movie: “Water”

Activity: Drops on a Penny

Activity: Prentice-Hall/GEMS “Dry Ice” units have info and activities for examining the molecular structure of water.

Magnitude of Space

Movie: “Powers of Ten,” which coordinates nicely with the study of exponents in Math.

While much of the material in the GEMS “Dry Ice” unit pertains to the themes we teach in this unit, the bulk of the activities probably work best as a culminating activity that gives students a chance to apply what they have learned in the unit to an actual systematic investigation. Other options for organizing this unit that lead to culminating activities include:



Metric Olympics

Gummy Bears