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Animals | Goals

General Unit Information

The Animals unit builds on student learning about organic and inorganic materials in the Systems and Scale unit, including how all systems exist at multiple scales and the transformation of materials and energy during chemical change. In the Animals unit students learn how the processes of digestion and biosynthesis transform food molecules into the biomass of an organism during growth, and how the process of cellular respiration transforms organic materials to inorganic materials and chemical energy to energy for function and movement of organisms.

Unit Goals

The tables below show goals for this unit in two forms. Table 1 shows unit learning objectives aligned with inquiry and application practices. Table 1 also contrasts the goal performance with performances of students at lower learning progression levels.

This table is followed by a list of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) addressed by this unit.

Type of Objective and NGSS Practices

Learning Objective

Challenges for Level 2 Students

Challenges for Level 3 Students

Inquiry: Measurement

3. Planning and carrying out investigations

4. Analyzing and interpreting data

5. Using mathematics and computational thinking

8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

Measure mass changes in animals and food.

Detect changes in carbondioxide concentration caused by animal metabolism.

Level 2 students may have trouble reading digital balances and attaching meaning to measurements in small fractions of grams.

Level 2 students will not think of air as a mixture of different gases, so while they can understand that BTB detects CO2, they will not think of CO2 as one of the mix of gases in the air.

Level 3 students may have trouble accounting for tare mass and interpreting small fluctuations in readings on digital balances.  They will have difficulty identifying threats to accuracy and precision in measurement.

Inquiry: Arguments from evidence

2. Developing and using models

3. Planning and carrying out investigations

4. Analyzing and interpreting data

5. Using mathematics and computational thinking

6. Constructing explanations

7. Engaging in argument from evidence

8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

Construct arguments that use evidence about changes in mass of animals and carbondioxide concentration to defend claims about movements of atoms during 1) growth (digestion and biosynthesis) and 2) function and movement (cellular respiration).

Level 2 students will not interpret changes in mass as evidence of movements of atoms, believing instead that animals need food for “energy to grow,” that an organism dynamically grows “by itself” as it gets older and that food is “burned up” by the organism. They will also believe that oxygen can be converted to CO2—they will not be committed to the idea that the carbon must have come from somewhere.

Level 3 students will see the relevance of evidence to claims, but they will not systematically consider alternate hypotheses or show how evidence supports or refutes specific claims.

Inquiry: Collective validation

3. Planning and carrying out investigations

4. Analyzing and interpreting data

5. Using mathematics and computational thinking

7. Engaging in argument from evidence

8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

Find patterns in data collected by multiple groups about changes in mass of animals or food and carbon dioxide concentration.

Level 2 students may focus primarily on their own results rather than seeing the value of multiple measurements.

Level 3 students will understand that multiple measurements are valuable, but they will have few strategies for finding patterns across multiple trials.

Application: Matter movement question

2. Developing and using models

6. Constructing explanations

7. Engaging in argument from evidence

8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

Describe systems and processes in a hierarchy of scales, including atomic-molecular, macroscopic, and large scale.

Draw and explain movements of materials during 1) growth of an animal and 2) function/movement of an organism, including air and food entering the animal, and waste, air enriched in carbondioxide and water vapor leaving the animal.

Level 2 students will explain what happens as an action of the organism (the mealworm grows, burns up food).  They will not interpret mass loss in the food and mass gain of the organism as evidence that atoms are moving.

Level 3 students will rely on accounts that trace movements of solids and liquids (food, water) separately from movements of gases (oxygen, carbon dioxide, water vapor).

Application: Matter change question

2. Developing and using models

6. Constructing explanations

7. Engaging in argument from evidence

8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

Identify the most abundant organic materials in foods—fats, proteins, and carbohydrates—and use food labels to find out how concentrated they are in different foods and animal tissues.

Explain the chemical changes that occur when an animal digests food and creates new biomass.

Explain the chemical changes that occur during cellular respiration, representing the changes with molecular models and chemical equations.

Level 2 students will explain what happens as an action of the organism (the mealworm grows, burns up food) rather than as a chemical change in which atoms and mass are conserved.  They will recognize that organisms get larger as they grow, but not trace those materials through chemical processes. They will recognize that organisms need and use food and oxygen, but they will not try to trace those materials through the chemical change process.

Level 3 students will recognize that a chemical change is taking place, but they will not be able to successfully trace all the materials through the organism.  They may say that the food is converted to energy.

Application: Energy change question

2. Developing and using models

6. Constructing explanations

7. Engaging in argument from evidence

8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

Identify forms of energy involved in growth and movement of animals: chemical energy, movement, and heat energy.

Explain energy transformations during 1) growth: chemical energy stored in food is preserved as polymers are broken down to monomers then reassembled as animal biomass and 2) function/movement of an organism: Chemical energy stored in organic molecules is transformed into motion and heat.

Level 2 students will recognize that an organism needs energy, but may associate with vitality (dead organisms have no energy) rather than with organic materials.

Level 2 students will recognize motion and heat are forms of energy in the organism, but they will not be committed to the idea that the energy must have a source.  (The mealworm could create energy.)

Level 3 students are likely to identify food as a source of energy for animals, but they may not distinguish between food as a material and chemical energy stored in the food.