Investigation 1: How can we gather evidence about energy and matter in all living things?

Lesson 1.1 How do living things move, grow, and reproduce?

  • Students are introduced to a phenomenon of tacos with many different ingredients on it. Students figure out the common patterns of what living things need and do (i.e. move, reproduce, breathe, get energy, grow). They consider examples of matter and energy and how matter and energy move through a system. Finally, they develop an initial model of a “taco farm”. 
  • This lesson sets the foundation for deeper explorations of how matter cycles and energy flows through ecosystems.

Lesson 1.2 Where do plants get the materials they need to grow?

  • In this lesson, students will begin to investigate how plants obtain matter (mass) through a sprouter demonstration. Students will predict the source of new mass in plants and then perform an experiment to try to answer this question. A seed sprouter with four kinds of seeds will be observed for five days, then the data from this experiment will be analyzed. Students figure out that plants gain matter (mass) without soil.
  • This will set the stage for future lessons where they will design more in-depth experiments to see how plants get energy and matter for growth and survival.

Lesson 1.3 How do growing conditions affect bean growth?

  • In this lesson, students will plan and conduct an experiment using beans to determine the importance of water, air, and light for plant growth. Students will figure out that plants need air and water to build their own matter.  
  • Light energy is needed for the healthy green appearance of plants. This will provide students with a concrete, observable experience to connect to future lessons, in which they will explore the unobservable process of photosynthesis in depth.

Lesson 1.4 What happens to plant materials after plants die?

  • In this lesson students will consider what happens to the matter of living things (like plants) when they die. Students do this by observing the process of decomposition and describe what is happening. Students will discover that when plants decompose, part of their matter becomes soil.
  • This lesson will set the stage for Investigation 3.3, where students will explore how decomposers aid in the cycling of matter in an ecosystem.

Student Science Journal