Sixth Grade Science Curriculum

 

 

 

Unit One:  The Animal Kingdom and Classification

 

Objectives for Unit One:

 

By the end of this unit, the students will be able to:

1. describe the major characteristics of each of the following Phyla:

Porifera, Coelenterata, Platyhelminthes, Nematoda, Annelida, Mollusca, Echinodermata, Arthropoda, Chordata

2. name representative animals from each Phylum and from each Class of those listed below.  You should be able to explain WHY each animal is in that particular Phylum and Class.

Porifera, Coelenterata, Annelida, Platyhelminthes, Nematoda, Mollusca (Classes: Gastropods, Cephalopods, Bivalves), Echinodermata, Arthropoda (Classes: Insects, Arachnids, Crustaceans), Chordata (Classes: Birds, Bony Fish, Cartilage-Skeletoned Fish, Reptiles, Amphibians, Mammals)

3. name the seven levels of classification in descending order, and understand that each category is a part of the one above it.

4. explain what a "key" is used for and using careful observations be able to identify an organism using one.

5. identify (by Phylum) animals from our preserved collection.

6. define these terms:

bilateral symmetry, radial symmetry, exoskeleton, internal skeleton, tentacles, spicules, antennae, cross section, segmented body, tube feet, polyp, medusa, parasite, classification, structural characteristics, multicellular, consumer, motile, stimulus

7. list characteristics that all living things have in common.

8. list characteristics that all animals have in common.

 

Assessments:

There will be a test at the end of this unit.  Students also do a research project on one phylum and teach a lesson to the class about this phylum using a variety of visual aids.

 

Activities for Unit One:

A) Classification activities include practice in comparing similar and dissimilar patterns and practice using and making dichotomous keys for the identification of individual organisms by phylum and class.

B) Each group of two or three students is assigned a phylum to learn research.  The groups then take a class period and teach their classmates all about the anatomy and behavior of the animals in their particular phylum.

C) Students learn and perform at assembly the Animal Phylum song.

D) Students make up board games that review all of the facts about the characteristics of the phyla of the Animal Kingdom.  Other students play the games as a review of the unit.

E) The Catalina trip is the culmination to this unit, where on a daily basis, students apply all that they have learned in the lab.

 

Tools:

1. Making Observations and Comparing

Using a dichotomous key to identify a creature requires careful attention to detail, as well as making comparisons to tell if organisms are in the same phylum or class.

2. Using Scientific Instruments

Students use the microscopes, dissecting scope, video microscope, centimeter rulers, dissecting equipment and the laser disc player during this unit.  One 45 minute period per week takes place in the Macintosh lab where students work with a variety of software programs in activities related to this unit.  Programs used during this unit include Hypercard, Printshop, Microsoft Word, and Superpaint.

3. Communicating

Teaching the class a lesson based on research that the student has done requires communicating at different levels.  Students must be able to express themselves in writing, communicate with the others in their group, speak articulately in front of the class,  be able to answer questions, and make understandable handouts and other visual aids.

4. Independent Problem Solving

Students are introduced to basic library research skills during this unit and independently locate different sources of information of their presentation.

5. Cooperative Problem Solving

During the presentation part of this unit, as well as during the trip to Catalina, the students work in groups to find out information and solve problems.

 

Unit Two - Animal Behavior

 

Objectives for Unit Two:

 

By the end of this unit, the students will be able to:

1. gain an understanding of the basic principles of animal behavior including instinct, taxis, learning an social behaviors.

2. design and carry out a series of experiments that answer questions of their own regarding live organisms.

3. compare and contrast the studies of the three primatologists, Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey and Birute Galdikas, and discover how these studies have benefitted humankind.

4. learn about the physical characteristics, feeding behavior, social behavior, reproductive behavior, habitat, and adaptations of one species of animal of their choice.

5. be able to describe the anatomy and physiology of land snails and earthworms.

 

Assessments:

Students will submit a report summarizing what they have learned about the primatologists.  They create the "Animal Newspaper" from their research on the animal species.  The "Snail Packet" and "Worm Packet" are submitted which contain all of the experiments conducted on these organisms.  Several quizzes are given during the Animal Behavior unit.

 

Activities for Unit Two:

A) The National Geographic videos Among the Wild Chimpanzees and Search for the Great Apes are shown and many discussions take place as the students vicariously experience what it is like to study primates in the wild.  Students travel to the Santa Barbara Zoo for an extended study of two primates of their choice.

B) Students create a newspaper that appears to be published and written by a species of animal of their choice.  Library skills are taught and reinforced.

C) The campus is used for animal behavior observations, particularly horsehair worms, birds and insects.

D) An earthworm farm is created in the classroom with students observing and carrying out experiments (both structured and of their own design) on the worms.

E) Students build a home for garden snails at their own home, keep a journal on the day to day behaviors of the snails, take measurements of their snails, and conduct experiments (both structured and of their own design) on the snails.  The project ends in a snail race.

F) In the computer lab one 45 minute period per week, the students use Hypercard, Superpaint, Printshop and Cricket Graph.

 

Tools:

1. Making Observations and Comparing

During the unit on primate behavior, the students continually make comparisons between what they are learning and general science concepts that they understand.  This continues as they observe and experiment with snails and earthworms.

2. Communicating

The "Animal Newspaper" project requires students to communicate with others in a new and different way.  They put themselves into the life of an animal, and write articles on the animal's behavior from a new perspective.

3. Independent Problem Solving

Designing and carrying out experiments which try to answer specific questions about snails and earthworms requires independent problem solving.

4. Trial and Error Learning

Students learn that to make a valid conclusion from a science experiment, the results must be repeatable.  Therefore, many trials are carried out for each experiment that they do before they reach conclusions. Sometimes variables are changed for new results to be produced.  Sometimes procedures are changed when they did not work the first time.


Unit Three:  New Kingdoms (Fungi, Eubacteria, Archaebacteria, Protists)

 

Objectives for Unit Three

 

By the end of this unit, the students will be able to:

1. label the following parts of a microscope and tell what each part does:  ocular, objective lenses, coarse adjustment knob, fine adjustment knob, iris diaphragm, stage, light source

2. figure out the magnifications of a specimen knowing the powers of the ocular and objective lens.

3. explain how to make a wet mount slide.

4. explain the steps one would take to see a specimen through a microscope.

5.  label the following parts of a cell on a diagram:  cell membrane, cytoplasm, nucleus, mitochondrion, vacuole, lysosome, centrioles, ribosomes, endoplasmic reticulum, golgi apparatus

6. explain what the organelles listed in #5 do for a cell.

7. explain why protists fit into their own Kingdom, rather than being grouped with plants or animals.

8. describe the three different types of locomotion used by protozoans.

9. explain how protozoans, bacteria and other microscopic organisms developed in our "gunk jugs".

10.  describe the life cycle of bread mold.

11.  discuss why the fungi are called the "kingdom of decay".

12.  explain why decomposers are also called recyclers and how they are helpful to other living things.

13. define the following terms:

hyphae, mycelium, producer, consumer, decomposer, parasite, spores, sporangium, sporangiophore, mushroom, unicellular, multicellular, stationary, motile

14. choose two very different types of fungi they learned about (for example, they might choose from molds, mushrooms, slime molds, shelf fungi, penicillium, yeast, athlete's foot, rusts, etc.) and tell what they have in common as well as how they are different.

 

Assessments:

A test is given at the end of this unit.  Quizzes on cell parts and functions and microscopes are given.  A packet of all labs that were carried out and completed during this unit is submitted by each student.

 

Activities for Unit Three:

A) Students create a "gunk jug" filled with various organic matter and water that stagnates for a few weeks in order to observe microscopic organisms as well as to observe the changes that take place as the matter decays.

B)The video, The Rotten World About Us, is viewed with lots of time for discussion about the "kingdom of decay".

C) Students write and read aloud poetry about Fungi.

D) Students grow bacterial cultures on agar.

E) The microscope is used as both and observational and measuring tool.  Students observe, identify and compare monerans, protozoans and fungi.

F) Students grow bread mold and study its life cycle.

G) Cell parts and their functions are learned through the creation of three dimensional cells using playdough.

H) Human cheek and onion skin cells are observed through the microscopes.

I) Students design and draw an analogy for the cell in poster form, such as a city or medieval village.

J) Students draw cells on the computers, using Hypercard or Superpaint, and draw and/or animate cell division.

 

Tools:

1. Making Observations and Comparing

Observation and comparison of the characteristics of living fungi, monerans and protists takes place throughout the unit.

2. Using Scientific Instruments

Students use the microscopes, dissecting scopes, hand lenses, video microscope, and centimeter rulers during this unit.  One 45 minute period per week takes place in the Macintosh lab where students work with a variety of software programs in activities related to this unit.  Programs used during this unit include Hypercard, Printshop, Microsoft Word, and Superpaint.

3. Communicating

Proper scientific lab reporting is done during this unit, and the students must communicate their findings and conclusions articulately both in writing and verbally.

4. Independent Problem Solving

Students must identify on their own a number of microscopic organisms.  They also grow mold with several variables and figure out the conditions necessary for mold to grow.  Using the microscope as a measuring tool, they calculate the size in microns of the living creatures they are observing.

 

 

Unit Four: An Introduction to the Science of Motion

 

Objectives for Unit Four:

 

By the end of this unit, the students will be able to:

1. construct a ramp for a ping pong ball to roll on that includes a loop-the-loop, uphill and a curve.

2. calculate average speed, acceleration and deceleration of a moving object.

3. explain how inertia affects moving or resting objects.

4. discuss the role of gravity on falling objects.

5. describe how friction affects motion.

6. show and understanding of how momentum affects motion.

7. define the following terms:

acceleration, action/reaction, centripetal force, circular motion, deceleration, distance, force, friction, gravity, inertia, momentum, speed

 


Assessments:

Students submit a "Roller Coaster Write-Up" which is a description of their designs and construction as well as an assessment of all they learned during the project.  A quiz is also given based on the objectives written above.

 

Activities for Unit Four:

A) The students work in groups of two or three and are given the challenge to build a roller coaster for a ping pong ball using only popsicle sticks, tape, straws and paper clips.  They are required to revise and revise as they attempt to make their roller coasters work.

B) A variety of hands-on demonstrations are carried out during this unit, showing how objects move.

C) In the computer lab, students explore the program Interactive Physics.

 

Tools:

1. Trial and Error Learning

This is one of the main goals of this project as students learn that initial tries often do not work, and that making major and minor changes, with patience and careful work is necessary to complete a project like this.

2. Communicating

Students work in groups on this project, and effective communication of ideas is essential throughout the designing and building process.  Each group submits a written report which includes diagrams, graphs, and written explanations of what worked, what didn't and what they learned.

3. Group Problem Solving

This is another main goal of this project, and the students experience sharing ideas, listening to others, remaining patient with their partners, and making their ideas heard. 

 

 

Unit Five: The Plant Kingdom

 

Objectives for Unit Five:

 

By the end of this unit, the students will be able to:

1. list the characteristics of the Plant Kingdom.

2. name the ingredients and products of the process of photosynthesis.  Describe the process.

3. briefly describe the characteristics of the five types of plants (algae, mosses and liverworts, ferns, gymnosperms and angiosperms).

4. label, on a diagram, the parts of a flower and tell what these parts do for the flower: petal, sepal, pistil (ovary, style, stigma), and stamen (anther, filaments).

5. describe the processes of pollination and fertilization.

6. describe the life cycle of an angiosperm, from seed, through plant with flowers, fruit and back to seed.

7. describe at least three different types of seed dispersal and explain why it is necessary for seeds to be dispersed away from the parent plant.

8. Define the following terms:

 chlorophyll, vascular system, xylem, phloem, stomata, epidermis, palisade cells, spongy layer, transpiration, pollen, ovule,  seed, embryo plant, endosperm, germination, fruit, flower, cone

 

Assessments:

A test is given at the end of this unit.  Quiz on botanical vocabulary is  given.  A packet of all labs that were carried out and completed during this unit is submitted by each student.

 

Activities for Unit Five:

A) Students germinate and grow hydroponically a variety of bean seeds in both the light and the dark.  Careful observations are made and pictures are drawn twice weekly of the germination and subsequent growth of the bean plants.

B) Students make a poster, depicting through their own symbols, the characteristics of the five types of plants.

C) Students carry out several botany labs, including making wet mount microscope slides and observing leaf cross sections and stomata, observing xylem and phloem, and dissecting seeds, flowers and many types of fruit.

D) Using a dichotomous key, students identify the trees on campus as well as local chaparral and riparian plants.

E) Students visit the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.

 

Tools:

1. Making Observations and Comparing

Observation and comparison of the growth of bean plants in the dark and in the light, identification of plant species by observation and comparison of botanical parts, and comparison of seed size, number, mode of dispersal and type are some examples of how students acquire these tools.

2. Using Scientific Instruments

Students use the microscopes, dissecting scopes, hand lenses, video microscope, dissecting equipment, graduated cylinders and centimeter rulers during this unit.  One 45 minute period per week takes place in the Macintosh lab where students work with a variety of software programs in activities related to this unit.  Programs used during this unit include Hypercard, Printshop, and Superpaint.

3. Communicating

Proper scientific lab reporting is done throughout this unit, and the students must communicate their findings and conclusions articulately both in writing and verbally.

4. Group Problem Solving

As a class, questions for the conclusion of the germination lab are generated as students brainstorm about all the observations they made over the three weeks it took for their plants to grow.  As a group, they try to figure out why the plants in the dark and in the light grew so differently.

 

 

 

 

Ongoing in Sixth Grade Science Throughout the Year:

 

"Science in the News"

 

Objectives for"Science in the News":

 

By the end of the year, students will:

1.  develop a habit of looking in newspapers or magazines for current science articles.

2.  gain experience finding the main ideas in written articles.

3.  gain an appreciation for the changing nature of science.

4.  begin to look critically at the way research and "facts" are presented and start to form their own scientific opinions based on what they know and what they are learning about science.

5.  read about many different types of science throughout the year and perhaps learn about an entirely new field they had never come across before.

 

Activity:

Each week during the school year, the students find one article of current scientific discovery or information from a newspaper or a recent periodical.  They read the article, find at least three main ideas from the article, write a one page summary and then write a paragraph of their own thoughts or reactions about what they have read.  From time to time in class, students have the opportunity to discuss what they have discovered and discuss this science current event with their classmates.

 

Tools:

1. Making Observations and Comparing

            Because SITN is a weekly project, students begin to make   connections between articles they have read throughout the            year.  They are also able to make connections between specific events in the news and the larger scientific concepts they have     studied.

2. Communicating

            Students must summarize what they have read in writing.  They     must also write their reactions to what they have read.