Introduction (describes the focus and purpose of the unit)
The Introduction IFD serves two purposes:
1. An introduction to the course through the lens of Overarching Understandings and the processes used to engage with and explore the content.
2. A guide for educators to navigate Instructional Focus Documents during instructional planning for the units of this course. (See parenthetical notes in each section.)
This unit bundles Student Expectations that allow for the establishment of science procedures, including safety and notebooking.
Prior to this Unit (list of TEKS in previous courses or previous units of this course that align with the content of this unit)
- Grade 7
- 7.1A – Demonstrate safe practices during laboratory and field investigations as outlined in Texas Education Agency-approved safety standards.
- 7.1B – Practice appropriate use and conservation of resources, including disposal, reuse, or recycling of materials.
- 7.2A – Plan and implement comparative and descriptive investigations by making observations, asking well defined questions, and using appropriate equipment and technology.
- 7.2B – Design and implement experimental investigations by making observations, asking well defined questions, formulating testable hypotheses, and using appropriate equipment and technology.
- 7.2C – Collect and record data using the International System of Units (SI) and qualitative means such as labeled drawings, writing, and graphic organizers.
- 7.2D – Construct tables and graphs, using repeated trials and means, to organize data and identify patterns.
- 7.2E – Analyze data to formulate reasonable explanations, communicate valid conclusions supported by the data, and predict trends.
- 7.3A – Analyze, evaluate, and critique scientific explanations by using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing, so as to encourage critical thinking by the student.
- 7.3B – Use models to represent aspects of the natural world such as human body systems and plant and animal cells.
- 7.3C – Identify advantages and limitations of models such as size, scale, properties, and materials.
- 7.3D – Relate the impact of research on scientific thought and society, including the history of science and contributions of scientists as related to the content.
- 7.4A – Use appropriate tools, including life science models, hand lenses, stereoscopes, microscopes, beakers, Petri dishes, microscope slides, graduated cylinders, test tubes, meter sticks, metric rulers, metric tape measures, timing devices, hot plates, balances, thermometers, calculators, water test kits, computers, temperature and pH probes, collecting nets, insect traps, globes, digital cameras, journals/notebooks, and other necessary equipment to collect, record, and analyze information.
- 7.4B – Use preventative safety equipment, including chemical splash goggles, aprons, and gloves, and be prepared to use emergency safety equipment, including an eye/face wash, a fire blanket, and a fire extinguisher.
During this Unit (an overview of the content in this unit)
Students demonstrate safe practices as described in the Texas Education Agency-approved safety standards. Please refer to the TEKS Resource System Resource “Science Notebooking: A Reflective Tool for Assessing Student Understanding” (Secondary) for more information. Consider having students use scientific practices to engage in a short descriptive investigation regarding safety to begin working and thinking like a scientist and to give a purpose to begin using the science notebook.
The introduction unit is an opportunity to introduce the course through the lens of the Overarching Understandings (big ideas). Throughout the school year, students need to continually look at instances of natural phenomena through the big ideas of systems, classifications, properties, patterns, models, constancy, and change. These terms are included in Key Content Vocabulary and students should be questioned throughout each unit for instances of these big ideas. Additionally, students need to be continually aware of the processes involved in their “doing” of science.
The scientific processes are very similar throughout every science course, beginning in Kindergarten. Students may need some direct instruction on the purpose and properties of scientific processes; however, it is intended for students to develop a deep understanding of the scientific processes by using them in the context of the content of this course, throughout every unit of this course. There are no Performance Assessments or assessment items associated with the introduction.
Streamlining Note (a statement describing the changes in relevant TEKS in current and previous courses implemented in the 2018-2019 school year)
TEKS 8.2 Knowledge Statement replaced “inquiry methods” with “scientific practices”. 8.2B removed redundant language “comparative” which is reflected in 8.2A. 8.3A removed language for instructional time. 8.4A revised language for clarity and removed language – “and other equipment as needed to teach the curriculum”. See the Science TEKS Streamlining Side by Side Grade 8 (link in System Resources below).
After this Unit (a statement that may describe the content that will be studied next in the course, how the content aligns with future courses, or how the content of this unit may be used in the real world)
Students will use scientific processes, safe practices, and their science notebooks throughout the year as they investigate scientific concepts and describe their findings.
STAAR Note (a brief statement regarding STAAR or a list of TEKS that may be assessed on STAAR)
The Student Expectations in this unit support Scientific Investigation and Reasoning Skills that may be assessed on the Grade 8 Science STAAR:
- These skills are foundational for Grade 8 Scientific Investigation and Reasoning and will be incorporated into at least 40% of the test questions on the Grade 8 STAAR in Reporting Categories 1-4.
Research (list of research-based Student Expectations that align with the TEKS of this unit)
At this level, students need to become more systematic and sophisticated in conducting their investigations, some of which may last for weeks or more. That means closing in on an understanding of what constitutes a good experiment. The concept of controlling variables is straightforward but achieving it in practice is difficult. Students can make some headway, however, by participating in enough experimental investigations (not to the exclusion, of course, of other kinds of investigations) and explicitly discussing how explanation relates to experimental design.
Student investigations ought to constitute a significant part—but only a part—of the total science experience. Systematic learning of science concepts must also have a place in the curriculum, for it is not possible for students to discover all the concepts they need to learn, or to observe all of the phenomena they need to encounter, solely through their own laboratory investigations. And even though the main purpose of student investigations is to help students learn how science works, it is important to back up such experience with selected readings. This level is a good time to introduce stories (true and fictional) of scientists making discoveries—not just world-famous scientists, but scientists of very different backgrounds, ages, cultures, places, and times.
“By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that:
- Scientists differ greatly in what phenomena they study and how they go about their work. 1B/M1a
- Scientific investigations usually involve the collection of relevant data, the use of logical reasoning, and the application of imagination in devising hypotheses and explanations to make sense of the collected data. 1B/M1b*
- If more than one variable changes at the same time in an experiment, the outcome of the experiment may not be clearly attributable to any one variable. It may not always be possible to prevent outside variables from influencing an investigation (or even to identify all of the variables). 1B/M2ab
- Collaboration among investigators can often lead to research designs that are able to deal with situations where it is not possible to control all of the variables. 1B/M2c*
- What people expect to observe often affects what they actually do observe. Strong beliefs about what should happen in particular circumstances can prevent them from detecting other results. 1B/M3ab
- Scientists know about the danger of prior expectations to objectivity and take steps to try and avoid it when designing investigations and examining data. One safeguard is to have different investigators conduct independent studies of the same questions. 1B/M3cd”
American Association for the Advancement of Science. (2009). Benchmarks on-line. Retrieved from http://www.project2061.org/publications/bsl/online/index.php?chapter=1#B2.
Laboratory investigations are essential for the effective teaching and learning of science. A school laboratory investigation (“lab”) is an experience in the laboratory, classroom, or the field that provides students with opportunities to interact directly with natural phenomena or with data collected by others using tools, materials, data collection techniques, and models.
National Research Council (NRC). 2006. America’s lab report: Investigations in high school science. Washington, DC: National Academy Press (p. 3).
“Inherent in laboratory-based activities is the potential for injury. Studies show that safety in K–12 school science instruction needs immediate and significant attention.”
National Science Teachers Association. (2010) NSTA position statement: Liability of science educators for laboratory safety. Retrieved fromhttp://www.nsta.org/about/positions/liability.aspx.