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    Puzzling Phenomenon or Anchoring Event

    To provide a context, consider this video of how Wolves changed the ecosystem around Yellowstone Park.


    Download an .mp4 file: http://bit.ly/wolves-rivers-movie

    Also on YouTube: http://bit.ly/wolves-rivers  or n Vimeo: http://bit.ly/wolves-rivers-vimeo



    Disciplinary Core Ideas Addressed

    LS1.C: Organization for matter and energy flow in organisms

    How do organisms obtain and use the matter and energy they need to live and grow? [Animals and plants alike generally need to take in air and water, animals must take in food, and plants need light and minerals; anaerobic life, such as bacteria in the gut, functions without air. Food provides animals with the materials they need for body repair and growth and is digested to release the energy they need to maintain body warmth and for motion. Plants acquire their material for growth chiefly from air and water and process matter they have formed to maintain their internal conditions (e.g., at night).]

    LS1.D: Information processing

    How do organisms detect, process, and use information about the environment? [Different sense receptors are specialized for particular kinds of information, which may then be processed and integrated by an animal’s brain, with some information stored as memories. Animals are able to use their perceptions and memories to guide their actions. Some responses to information are instinctive—that is, animals’ brains are organized so that they do not have to think about how to respond to certain stimuli.]

    LS2.A: Interdependent relationships in ecosystems 

    How do organisms interact with the living and nonliving environments to obtain matter and energy? [The food of almost any kind of animal can be traced back to plants. Organisms are related in food webs in which some animals eat plants for food and other animals eat the animals that eat plants. Either way, they are “consumers.” Some organisms, such as fungi and bacteria, break down dead organisms (both plants or plant parts and animals) and therefore operate as “decomposers.” Decomposition eventually restores (recycles) some materials back to the soil for plants to use. Organisms can survive only in environments in which their particular needs are met. A healthy ecosystem is one in which multiple species of different types are each able to meet their needs in a relatively stable web of life. Newly introduced species can damage the balance of an ecosystem.]

    LS2.B: Cycles of matter and energy transfer in ecosystems

    How do matter and energy move through an ecosystem? [Matter cycles between the air and soil and among plants, animals, and microbes as these organisms live and die. Organisms obtain gases, water, and minerals from the environment and release waste matter (gas, liquid, or solid) back into the environment.]


    Science and Engineering Practices Addressed 

    1. Asking questions
      • Ask questions that can be investigated based on patterns such as cause-and-effect relationships.
    2. Developing and using models
      • Identify limitations of models.
      • Collaboratively develop and revise a model based on evidence that shows the relationships among variables for frequent and regular occurring events.
      • Develop and/or use models to describe phenomena.
      • Use a model to test cause-and-effect relationships or interactions concerning the functioning of a natural system.
    3. Planning and carrying out investigations
      • Plan and conduct an investigation collaboratively to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence, using fair tests in which variables are controlled and the number of trials considered.
      • Make observations and/or measurements to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence for an explanation of a phenomenon or test a design solution.
      • Make predictions about what would happen if a variable changes.
    4. Analyzing and interpreting data
      • Represent data in tables and/or various graphical displays to reveal patterns that indicate relationships.
      • Analyze and interpret data to make sense of phenomena using logical reasoning.
      • Compare and contrast data collected by different groups in order to discuss similarities and differences in their findings.
    5. Using mathematics and computational thinking
      • Describe, measure, estimate, and/or graph quantities such as weight to address scientific and engineering questions.
    6. Constructing explanations
      • Use evidence (e.g., measurements, observations, patterns) to construct or support an explanation or design a solution to a problem.
      • Identify the evidence that supports particular points in an explanation.
    7. Engaging in argument from evidence
      • Construct an argument with evidence, data, and/or models.
    8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information
      • Read and comprehend grade-appropriate complex texts and/or other reliable media to summarize and obtain scientific and technical ideas and describe how they are supported by evidence.
      • Obtain and combine information from books and/or other reliable media to explain phenomena or solutions to a design problem.
      • Communicate scientific and/or technical information orally and/or in written formats, including various forms of media, such as tables, diagrams, and charts.

    Crosscutting Concepts Addressed


    • Similarities and differences in patterns can be used to sort and classify natural phenomena. Patterns of change can be used to make predictions and as evidence to support an explanation.

    Scale, proportion, and quantity

    • Natural objects and/or observable phenomena exist from the very small to the immensely large or from very short to very long time periods.
    • Standard units are used to measure and describe physical quantities such as weight, time, temperature, and volume.

    Systems and system models

    • A system is a group of related parts that make up a whole and can carry out functions its individual parts cannot.
    • A system can be described in terms of its components and their interactions.

    Energy and matter

    • Matter flows and cycles can be tracked in terms of the weight of the substances before and after a process occurs. The total weight of the substances does not change. That is what is meant by conservation of matter. Matter is transported into, out of, and within systems.
    • Energy can be transferred in various ways and between objects.
    • Energy is transported into, out of, and within systems.

    Structure and function

    • Substructures have shapes and parts that serve function.

    Stability and change

    • Change is measured in terms of difference over time and may occur at different rates.
    • Some systems appear stable, but over long periods of time will eventually change.