Grade 6Science

Focus: In this unit, students investigate the phenomenon of thermal energy and how understanding about the flow of thermal energy can lead to the engineering of containers that retain heat well. The subtitle of this unit is How can containers keep stuff from warming up or cooling down? This is a phenomenon that students experience when they compare the heat retaining properties of varying containers. How do things heat up or cool down in an open system? What happens to a substance’s thermal energy in a closed system? Can thinking in terms of substance’s particle help explain the phenomenon of the changes in thermal energy in a system?  This unit allows students to observe this phenomenon in detail and then start asking questions, formulating explanations, setting up and conducting activities and research, and working with classmates to analyze the shared experience and formulate new questions and developing new strategies for answering them. Students explore concepts that include the following:

  • What cup features seem most important for keeping a drink cold?
  • If matter cannot exit or enter a closed system, how does a liquid in the system change temperature?
  • How does the temperature of a liquid on one side of a cup wall affect the temperature of a liquid on the other side of the wall?
  • How does the motion of particles compare in a sample of matter at a given temperature?

As students move through their day-to-day activities, they will also read Core Knowledge literacy selections. These include factual articles, history of the sciences, art and literature, spotting bad science in media and advertisements, graphics comprehension, research-type articles, reliability of sources, and other areas of science literacy.

Lesson Numbers:

  • Teacher Guide: 8 Lessons
  • Student Reader: 7 Collections

Lesson time:

  • Lesson can be competed in one or more class periods.
  • A Pacing Guide, found in Online Resources, offers the suggestion that the entire unit should take about 18 days to complete if class is held each day.
  • A complete list of materials needed to complete the unit is also provided in the Online Resources.
  • The Core Knowledge Student Reader includes one reading collection per week for every week of the unit. A week’s reading collection relates to the lessons completed in the previous week.
    • The reading is assigned at the beginning of the week with the accompanying writing exercise due at the end of the week.
    • The reading and writing exercises are designed to be completed by students independently, with brief, supporting, teacher-facilitated discussions at the beginning, midpoint, and end of the week.

Additional Search Terms for the Student Reader:

• open system • closed system • science literacy • thermal energy • heat • temperature • glacier • thermoregulation • insulation • nonfiction • informational text

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