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Students explore the phenomenon of monarch migration to Mexico. Lessons within the unit help students figure out that a special generation of monarchs migrate to Mexico over several months even though their adult life span is typically two to four weeks. Additionally, students determine that the butterflies making the trip south do not come back north. A main topic in this unit is life cycles. Students watch painted lady butterflies and radish plants go through their life cycle right in their classroom and collect data on the four stages of all life cycles - birth, growth, reproduction, and death. Another main topic in the unit is inheritance of traits. Variations of these traits provide advantages in surviving, finding mates, and reproducing.
The main topics included in this unit are investigating the phenomenon of weather, the water cycle, weather-related hazards, and climates in different regions of the world. The class collaborates to plan and conduct an investigation of the weather using weather tools. Students develop a presentation about the weather and climate at a specific global location.
The main topics included in this unit are balanced and unbalanced forces on the motion of an object and how data collected about an object’s motion can predict future motion. Cause and effect relationships of electric (static electricity) and magnetic interactions are explored through questioning strategies. The forces of gravity and friction are also introduced in the unit. Magnetism, static electricity, gravity, and friction are all forces that cannot be seen, but we do see their impact. The forces used in a Rube Goldberg machine is the anchoring phenomenon of the unit. Students use the engineering design process to create their own Rube Goldberg machine that incorporates the various forces learned in the unit.
Students learn about how bringing wolves back to Yellowstone National Park changed the park’s ecosystem. Students discover that wolves no longer live in New York State, and they are then posed with the question, “Should wolves be brought back to Adirondack Park in New York State?” To help them make their argument, students learn about animal adaptations (physical and behavioral), group vs. solitary animals, and why some organisms survive well in a particular habitat while others survive less well or not at all. Fossils are included in this unit as they represent other animals no longer found in New York State.