Grade 6

In 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, new units were / will be rolled in our 6th grade classrooms. As with all new units districtwide that will be rolled out in the future, these units are driven by engaging phenomena that spark student questions and interest. Students are using science and engineering practices to figure out the phenomena as they build their understanding individually and with each other using all forms of literacy (reading, writing, talking and listening). Literacy connections are built into the units, as well as engineering and connections to professional scientists. The 6th grade units are outlined below.

Unit Understandings Essential Questions
Earth’s Story (Plate Tectonics)
In this unit, students gradually figure out for themselves the pieces of the puzzle of plate tectonics. They make sense of evidence gathered by Wegener in the early 1900’s, and later scientists, attempting to explain events and changes in the Earth over time. Only at the end of the unit is the theory of plate tectonics revealed. The stories of the scientists involved in these discoveries are also highlighted to encourage personal connections between students and professional scientists, and to feature how scientific ideas change over time based on new evidence.
How and why is Earth constantly changing?

How do scientists gather evidence to explain these changes?

How do we use data from Earth’s past to explain the present and predict its future?
River to the Sea (The Charles River)
In this place-based study that builds upon the 3rd Grade Charles River Exploration unit, 6th graders dig deeper into the more sophisticated issues facing the Charles River. They explore the water cycle as it applies to our river, changes in the river and how they have affected its ecosystems, analyze river water and data to sleuth out problems that the river faces today, study the impact of their schoolyards on stormwater runoff, and brainstorm innovative ways to solve the river’s problems.
How do we know if the water in the Charles River is safe for organisms in the ecosystem (including humans)?

What can we do to protect the Charles River?
How Does My Body Work? (Cells and Body Systems)
In this unit, students explore the fascinating human machine--their own bodies and how they work. The investigation starts at the smallest scale, by uncovering the idea that all living things are made of cells via microscope observations. They look at the cell system--what do cells need and what are the parts of the cells that do the jobs needed to keep us alive. Then students explore how individual body systems work together to meet the body’s needs. They follow a red blood cell on its journey through the circulatory system and discover how it interacts with the digestive and respiratory systems to supply the body with nutrients and oxygen. Students then delve into the excretory, muscular/skeletal, and nervous systems -continuously making connections between the systems.
How does my body work?

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