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Animals Unit

Animals is one of the six Carbon TIME units. If you are new to teaching Carbon TIME, read the Carbon TIME FAQ: Which Units Should I Teach.

The goal of the Animals unit is to introduce students to organic matter and chemical energy (in the context of digestion and biosynthesis) using the tools for reasoning and environmental literacy practices that students will engage with in other units. Students develop required capacity to distinguish organic matter from inorganic matter, and to understand how differences in the chemical make-up of materials influences how materials and energy are transformed and moved between systems.

The Animals
Unit supports students in using core disciplinary ideas, science practices, and cross-cutting concepts to develop scientific explanations of how different animals transform matter and energy as they grow, move, and function.

Follow these steps to get ready to teach the Animals Unit.






Lead Editor for 2018-2019 Version

Kirsten D. Edwards, Department of Teacher Education, Michigan State University

Principal Authors

Christa Haverly, Department of Teacher Education, Michigan State University
Christie Morrison Thomas, Department of Teacher Education, Michigan State University
Kirsten Edwards, Department of Teacher Education, Michigan State University
Hannah K. Miller, Department of Teacher Education, Michigan State University
Charles W. “Andy” Anderson, Department of Teacher Education, Michigan State University

Contributing Authors

Beth Covitt, Jenny Dauer, Jennifer H. Doherty, Allison Freed, Wendy Johnson, Deborah Jordan, Craig Kohn, Lindsey Mohan, Joyce Parker, Emily Scott, Elizabeth Tompkins, Nicholas Verbanic, Pingping Zhao

Illustrations

Craig Douglas, Kendra Mojica

This research is supported in part by grants from the National Science Foundation: A Learning Progression-based System for Promoting Understanding of Carbon-transforming Processes (DRL 1020187) and Sustaining Responsive and Rigorous Teaching Based on Carbon TIME (NSF 1440988). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or the United States Department of Energy.

This unit is also available online at http://carbontime.bscs.org/. Contact the MSU Environmental Literacy Program for more information: EnvLit@msu.edu.

The Driving Question

The Animals Unit starts by asking students to express their ideas about the driving question about an anchoring phenomenon.

Carbon is the key! In the unit, students learn to tell the story of how matter and energy are transformed as they move through animal systems. A particularly powerful strategy for explaining how animal systems transform matter and energy involves tracing carbon atoms. For more information about the Next Generation Science Standards
disciplinary core ideas included in this unit, see sections on the Matter Movement, Matter Change, and Energy Change Questions below and the Unit Goals.

Research base. This unit is based on learning progression research that describes the resources that students bring to learning about animals and the barriers to understanding that they must overcome. It is organized around an instructional model that engages students in three-dimensional practices.

Before beginning the Animals Unit, you need to decide what to teach and importantly, what not to teach! Use this page to choose the unit sequence that’s most appropriate for your students.

  • Some activities are REPEATING ACTIVITIES (). Omit these activities if students have already completed them in another unit (unless you’d like students to repeat them as review).
  • Other activities are TWO-TURTLE ACTIVITIES (), which place a higher demand on students. Decide whether the higher demand required by these activities will be useful or distracting for your students. The Carbon TIME Turtle Trails Document document provides further info about choices for making units more or less demanding, depending on your students’ needs.

Unless otherwise noted in the table below, all activities in the unit should be taught.

Here, we present two ways to think about how lessons are sequenced in the Animals Unit. The Instructional Model, immediately below, emphasizes how students take on roles of questioner, investigator, and explainer to learn and apply scientific models they can use to answer the driving question. Further below, the Unit Storyline Chart highlights the central question, activity, and answer that students engage with in each lesson of the Animals Unit.

Instructional Model

Like all Carbon TIME units, this unit follows an instructional model (IM) designed to support teaching that helps students achieve mastery at answering the driving question through use of disciplinary content, science practices, and crosscutting concepts. To learn more about this design, see the Carbon TIME instructional model.

animals unit map

The core of the Carbon TIME IM is the Observation, Patterns, Models (OPM) triangle, which summarizes key aspects to be attended to as the class engages in unit inquiry and explanation. The OPM triangle for the Animals Unit, shown below, articulates the key observations students make during the unit investigation, the key patterns they identify through analyzing their investigation data, and the central scientific model that can be used to answer the unit’s driving question. During the inquiry portion of the unit (Lesson 3), the class moves from making observations to identifying patterns, eventually using these patterns to make evidence-based arguments. During the explanation portion of the unit (Lessons 4, 5, 6), the class learns the atomic-molecular model, makes connections across scales, and uses the atomic-molecular model to explain how animals grow, move, and function. Across the unit, classroom discourse is a necessary part of 3-dimensional Carbon TIME learning. The Carbon TIME Discourse Routine document provides guidance for scaffolding this discourse in lessons.

animals unit observations, patterns, and models

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) performance expectations that middle and high school students can achieve through completing the Animals Unit are listed below. To read a discussion of how the Carbon TIME project is designed to help students achieve the performances represented in the NGSS, please see Three-dimensional Learning in Carbon TIME.

Next Generation Science Standards

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) performance expectations that middle and high school students can achieve through completing the Animals Unit are listed below. To read a discussion of how the Carbon TIME project is designed to help students achieve the performances represented in the NGSS, please see Three-dimensional Learning in Carbon TIME.

High School

Middle School

Resources You Provide

Activity 1.1: Animals Unit Pretest (20 min)

  • pencils (1 per student, for paper version)

Activity 1.2: Expressing Ideas about How Animals Grow (40 min)

Activity 2.1: Zooming into Plants, Animals, and Decomposers (40 min)

Activity 2.2: Molecules Cells Are Made of (45 min)

Activity 2.3: Molecules in Cells Quiz (20 min)

  • Pencils (1 per student)

Activity 2.4: Questions about Animals (30 min)

Activity 3.1: Predictions about Mealworms Eating (50 min)

Activity 3.2: Observing Mealworms Eating (60 min over 2 days)

  • bromothymol blue (BTB) solution (less than 1 cup per group of four students
  • digital balance (1 per group of four students)
  • mealworms (10-15 grams, approximately 100-150 mealworms per group of four students)
  • plastic Petri dish (1 per group of four students)
  • sealable, 9.5 cup container (1 per group of four students)
  • small container to hold mealworms (1 per group of four students)
  • thick slice of potato (food for mealworms) (1 per group of four students)
  • (From previous lesson) 3.1 Predictions and Planning Tool for Mealworms Eating with student answers

Activity 3.3: Evidence-Based Arguments about Mealworms Eating (50 min)

Activity 4.1: Molecular Models for Cows Moving and Functioning: Cellular Respiration (45 min)

Activity 4.2: Explaining How Cows Move and Function: Cellular Respiration (40 min)

Activity 5.1: Tracing the Processes of Cows Growing: Digestion and Biosynthesis (40 min)

Activity 5.2: Molecular Models for Cows Growing: Digestion and Biosynthesis (40 min)

  • scissors (1 per pair of students)
  • removable or re-stick tape (1 dispenser per pair of students)

Activity 5.3: Explaining How Cows Grow: Digestion (40 min)

Activity 5.4: Explaining How Cows Grow: Biosynthesis (40 min)

Activity 6.1: Explaining Other Examples of Animals Growing, Moving, and Functioning (50 min)

Activity 6.2: Comparing Animals and Flames (50 min)

Activity 6.3: Functions of All Animals (50 min)

Activity 6.4: Animals Unit Posttest (20 min)

  • pencils (1 per student)