ES5 - Earth & Sun

Earth is the third planet from the Sun. It travels around the Sun in a nearly circular orbit at a distance of about 150 million kilometers. Earth is water rich, with 71% of the planet’s surface covered with water. It is surrounded by a shallow atmosphere of nitrogen (78%) and oxygen (21%), and small amounts of a lot of other gases. The an
chor phenomena students investigate in the Earth and Sun Module are the patterns observed in the sky over a day, a month, a year, and more, and their effect on Earth. The driving question for the module is how do Earth’s geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere interact to create a sustainable environment for life? 

The constant renewal of water on Earth’s land surfaces by the activities in the atmosphere is one of the defining characteristics of Earth, the water planet. The Earth and Sun Module provides students with experiences to explore the properties of the atmosphere, energy transfer from the Sun to Earth, and the dynamics of weather and water cycling in Earth’s atmosphere. Other experiences help students to develop and use models to understand Earth’s place in the solar system, and the interactions of Earth, the Sun, and the Moon to reveal predictable patterns—daily length and direction of shadows, day and night, and the seasonal appearance of stars in the night sky. Students gain experiences that will contribute to the understanding of crosscutting concepts of patterns; cause and effect; scale, proportion, and quantity; systems and system models; and energy and matter.

The anchor phenomena investigated in this module are the patterns observed in the sky over a day, a month, a year, and more, and their effects on Earth. The driving question for the module is how do Earth’s four major subsystems (geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere) interact to create a sustainable environment for all life, including human life?
  • Students start in Investigation 1 by investigating two related phenomena—outdoor shadows and how they change as the Sun’s position in the sky changes during the day, and the phenomenon of day and night. The guiding questions are how can we predict events based on shadows? and what do shadows tell us about daily patterns involving the Earth/Sun system?
  • In Investigation 2, students consider the phenomenon that we see some objects in the sky during the day, some only at night, and some at both times, and they appear to move across the sky. Some of these objects, stars, give off light; others reflect the light of stars. The guiding questions are what objects do we observe in our solar system and how do they move in relation to each other? and what do we see outside of our system?
  • In investigation 3, students investigate the phenomenon that air surrounds us—Earth has an atmosphere. They connect the phenomenon of local weather to activities in the atmosphere. The guiding question is what is Earth’s atmosphere and what does it have to do with weather?
  • In Investigation 4, students investigate the phenomena that solar energy (sunlight) can transfer to matter on Earth’s surface (geosphere and hydrosphere), and, in turn, to Earth’s atmosphere. The guiding question is how does Earth’s atmosphere heat up?
  • Finally, in Investigation 5, students turn to the phenomenon of water on Earth—a critically important factor in determining weather. The guiding questions are how is water distributed over Earth’s surface and atmosphere?, how does water move over the planet?, and what is the effect of water movement on Earth? This brings students back to the driving question for the module—how do Earth’s four major subsystems—hydrosphere, geosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere—interact to create a sustainable environment for all life, including humans?
 

NGSS Standards Addressed

Disciplinary Core Ideas

By the end of grade 5. The sun is a star that appears larger and brighter than other stars because it is closer. Stars range greatly in their size and distance from Earth.
  • The sun is a star that appears larger and brighter than other stars because it is closer. Stars range greatly in their distance from Earth.
By the end of grade 5. The orbits of Earth around the sun and of the moon around Earth, together with the rotation of Earth about an axis between its North and South poles, cause observable patterns. These include day and night; daily and seasonal changes in the length and direction of shadows; phases of the moon; and different positions of the sun, moon, and stars at different times of the day, month, and year.
Some objects in the solar system can be seen with the naked eye. Planets in the night sky change positions and are not always visible from Earth as they orbit the sun. Stars appear in patterns called constellations, which can be used for navigation and appear to move together across the sky because of Earth’s rotation.
  • The orbits of Earth around the sun and of the moon around Earth, together with the rotation of Earth about an axis between its North and South poles, cause observable patterns. These include day and night; daily changes in the length and direction of shadows; and different positions of the sun, moon, and stars at different times of the day, month, and year.
By the end of grade 5. Earth’s major systems are the geosphere (solid and molten rock, soil, and sediments), the hydrosphere (water and ice), the atmosphere (air), and the biosphere (living things, including humans). These systems interact in multiple ways to affect Earth’s surface materials and processes. The ocean supports a variety of ecosystems and organisms, shapes landforms, and influences climate. Winds and clouds in the atmosphere interact with the landforms to determine patterns of weather. Rainfall helps shape the land and affects the types of living things found in a region. Water, ice, wind, living organisms, and gravity break rocks, soils, and sediments into smaller particles and move them around. Human activities affect Earth’s systems and their interactions at its surface.
  • Rainfall helps to shape the land and affects the types of living things found in a region. Water, ice, wind, living organisms, and gravity break rocks, soils, and sediments into smaller particles and move them around.
  • Earth’s major systems are the geosphere (solid and molten rock, soil, and sediments), the hydrosphere (water and ice), the atmosphere (air), and the biosphere (living things, including humans). These systems interact in multiple ways to affect Earth’s surface materials and processes. The ocean supports a variety of ecosystems and organisms, shapes landforms, and influences climate. Winds and clouds in the atmosphere interact with the landforms to determine patterns of weather.
By the end of grade 5. Water is found almost everywhere on Earth: as vapor; as fog or clouds in the atmosphere; as rain or snow falling from clouds; as ice, snow, and running water on land and in the ocean; and as groundwater beneath the surface. The downhill movement of water as it flows to the ocean shapes the appearance of the land. Nearly all of Earth’s available water is in the ocean. Most fresh water is in glaciers or underground; only a tiny fraction is in streams, lakes, wetlands, and the atmosphere.
  • Nearly all of Earth’s available water is in the ocean. Most fresh water is in glaciers or underground; only a tiny fraction is in streams, lakes, wetlands, and the atmosphere.
By the end of grade 5. Human activities in agriculture, industry, and everyday life have had major effects on the land, vegetation, streams, ocean, air, and even outer space. But individuals and communities are doing things to help protect Earth’s resources and environments. For example, they are treating sewage, reducing the amounts of materials they use, and regulating sources of pollution such as emissions from factories and power plants or the runoff from agricultural activities.
  • Human activities in agriculture, industry, and everyday life have had major effects on the land, vegetation, streams, ocean, air, and even outer space. But individuals and communities are doing things to help protect Earth’s resources and environments.

Science and Engineering Practices

Asking Questions and Defining Problems - in grades 3–5 builds from grades K–2 experiences and progresses to specifying qualitative relationships.
Ask questions about what would happen if a variable is changed.
  • Identify scientific (testable) and non-scientific (non-testable) questions.
  • Ask questions that can be investigated and predict reasonable outcomes based on patterns such as cause and effect relationships.
  • Use prior knowledge to describe problems that can be solved.
  • Define a simple design problem that can be solved through the development of an object, tool, process, or system and includes several criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
Developing & Using Models - in 3–5 builds on K–2 experiences and progresses to building and revising simple models and using models to represent events and design solutions.
  • Identify limitations of models.
  • Collaboratively develop and/or revise a model based on evidence that shows the relationships among variables for frequent and regular occurring events.
  • Develop a model using an analogy, example, or abstract representation to describe a scientific principle or design solution.
  • Develop and/or use models to describe and/or predict phenomena.
  • Develop a diagram or simple physical prototype to convey a proposed object, tool, or process.
  • Use a model to test cause and effect relationships or interactions concerning the functioning of a natural or designed system.
Planning and Carrying Out Investigations - in 3–5 builds on K–2 experiences and progresses to include investigations that control variables and provide evidence to support explanations or design solutions.
  • 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.
  • Evaluate appropriate methods and/or tools for collecting data.
  • 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.
  • Test two different models of the same proposed object, tool, or process to determine which better meets criteria for success.
Analyzing and Interpreting Data  in 3–5 builds on K–2 experiences and progresses to introducing quantitative approaches to collecting data and conducting multiple trials of qualitative observations. When possible and feasible, digital tools should be used.
  • Represent data in tables and/or various graphical displays (bar graphs, pictographs, and/or pie charts) to reveal patterns that indicate relationships.
  • Analyze and interpret data to make sense of phenomena, using logical reasoning, mathematics, and/or computation.
  • Compare and contrast data collected by different groups in order to discuss similarities and differences in their findings.
  • Analyze data to refine a problem statement or the design of a proposed object, tool, or process.
  • Use data to evaluate and refine design solutions.
Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking - at the 3–5 level builds on K–2 experiences and progresses to extending quantitative measurements to a variety of physical properties and using computation and mathematics to analyze data and compare alternative design solutions.
  • Decide if qualitative or quantitative data are best to determine whether a proposed object or tool meets criteria for success.
  • Organize simple data sets to reveal patterns that suggest relationships.
  • Describe, measure, estimate, and/or graph quantities such as area, volume, weight, and time to address scientific and engineering questions and problems.
  • Create and/or use graphs and/or charts generated from simple algorithms to compare alternative solutions to an engineering problem
Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions - in 3–5 builds on K–2 experiences and progresses to the use of evidence in constructing explanations that specify variables that describe and predict phenomena and in designing multiple solutions to design problems.
  • Construct an explanation of observed relationships (e.g., the distribution of plants in the back yard).
  • 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.
  • Apply scientific ideas to solve design problems.
  • Generate and compare multiple solutions to a problem based on how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the design solution.
Obtaining, Evaluating and Communicating Information - in 3–5 builds on K–2 experiences and progresses to evaluating the merit and accuracy of ideas and methods.
Obtain and combine information from books and other reliable media to explain phenomena.
  • 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.
  • Compare and/or combine across complex texts and/or other reliable media to support the engagement in other scientific and/or engineering practices.
  • Combine information in written text with that contained in corresponding tables, diagrams, and/or charts to support the engagement in other scientific and/or engineering practices.
  • 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 and may include tables, diagrams, and charts.

Crosscutting Concepts

Patterns Observed patterns in nature guide organization and classification and prompt questions about relationships and causes underlying them.
  • Similarities and differences in patterns can be used to sort, classify, communicate and analyze simple rates of change for natural phenomena and designed products.
  • Patterns of change can be used to make predictions
  • Patterns can be used as evidence to support an explanation.
Cause and Effect - Events have causes, sometimes simple, sometimes multifaceted. Deciphering causal relationships, and the mechanisms by which they are mediated, is a major activity of science and engineering.
  • Cause and effect relationships are routinely identified, tested, and used to explain change.
  • Events that occur together with regularity might or might not be a cause and effect relationship.
Scale, Proportion, and Quantity In considering phenomena, it is critical to recognize what is relevant at different size, time, and energy scales, and to recognize proportional relationships between different quantities as scales change. 
  • 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 an organized group of related objects or components; models can be used for understanding and predicting the behavior of systems.
  • A system can be described in terms of its components and their interactions.
  • A system is a group of related parts that make up a whole and can carry out functions its individual parts cannot.
Energy and Matter - Tracking energy and matter flows, into, out of, and within systems helps one understand their system’s behavior.
  • Energy can be transferred in various ways and between objects.
  • Matter is made of particles.
  • 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. This is what is meant by conservation of matter. Matter is transported into, out of, and within systems.



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