Environmental Science Unit 1: The Living World

Course Essential Understandings

  1. Science is a process.
    • Science is a method of learning more about the world.
    • Science constantly changes the way we understand the world.
  2. Energy conversions underlie all ecological processes.
    • Energy cannot be created; it must come from somewhere.
    • As energy flows through systems, at each step more of it becomes unusable.
  3. The Earth itself is one interconnected system.
    • Natural systems change over time and space.
    • Biogeochemical systems vary in ability to recover from disturbances.
  4. Humans alter natural systems.
    • Humans have had an impact on the environment for millions of years.
    • Technology and population growth have enabled humans to increase both the rate and scale of their impact on the environment.
  5. Environmental problems have a cultural and social context.
    • Understanding the role of cultural, social, and economic factors is vital to thedevelopment of solutions.
  6. Human survival depends on developing practices that will achieve sustainablesystems.
    • A suitable combination of conservation and development is required.
    • Management of common resources is essential.

Course Goals: to understand and demonstrate that:

  1. Science is a process.
  2. Energy conversions underlie all ecological processes.

And to:

  • develop your understanding of the nature of science as it pertains to the physical world.
  • understand and describe, qualitatively and quantitatively, the nature of matter and energy and apply your understanding to natural phenomena you observe
  • investigate and understand the interactions between humans and the Earth.
  • critically observe environmental systems
  • develop and conduct well-designed experiment

Course Essential Questions

  • How might I use scientific inquiry to investigation the natural world?
  • How can I use my experience in science to learn to think and communicate clearly, logically, and critically in preparation for college and a career?
  • How can I best assess my own learning and progress?
  • How can I use technology in my learning and become a better digital citizen?
  • How can I think more divergently, creatively, and innovatively as a scientist?

Scientific Inquiry and Application Skills

  • Identify questions and concepts that guide scientific investigations
  • Design and conduct scientific investigations
  • Use technology and mathematics to improve investigations and communications
  • Formulate and revise explanations and models using logic and evidence (critical thinking)
  • Recognize and analyze explanations and models
  • Communicate and support a scientific argument

Unit Essential Questions

  1. How are the basic concepts, skills, and understandings in science related to one another? interrelated?
  2. In what ways is measurement used to describe the patterns in the natural world?
  3. In what ways can data be used to visualize, display, and share new information?


  1. Scientific measurement; SI system and why it is used - mass, length, volume, time
  2. Precision and accuracy in measurement
  3. Calculations are the justification for your results
  4. Measurements and observations are analyzed using mathematical processes to discover connections and trends.
Learning Targets:

Students will be able to....

Learning Targets: Essential Question

Students will be able to.....

  1. State the essential question, and
  2. Explain how each topic of study is foundational to or otherwise related to our essential question.
Academic Vocabulary: Bricks Academic Vocabulary: Mortar
  • unit
  • SI system
  • meter
  • mass
  • volume
  • significant figures (measurement)
  • testable question
  • describe
  • calculate
  • analyze
  • classify
  • interpret
  • list; state
  • explain
  • define
  • law (in science)
  • claim
  • evidence
  • reason




Daily Learning Activities

Day 1
August 17

  • Introduction to the semester essential question: How do we collect and interpret evidence of human inpact on the Earth?
  • Reading of Student Handbook

Day 2
August 18

How can I work collaboratively to enhance my learning?

  • POGIL roles

Day 3
August 21

Day 4
August 22

  • Components of Environmental Science, and Careers:
    • Atmospheric science
    • Ecology
    • Geoscience
    • Environmental Chemistry
    • Regulations
    • Careers
  • Group Google doc for each, telling
    • What is the component about?
    • Give examples and cite studies
    • Why is this important to us? What careers are involved?
    • What regulations impact this field?
  • Then write on your own and submit as a Google doc in folder you shared with me:
    • What areas of research are part of environmental science? Why is each important?

Day 5
August 23

Day 6
August 24


Day 7
August 25

Day 8
August 28

  • Distinguish between climate and weather.
  • Read this article on weather and climate.
Day 9
August 29
Day 10
August 30
Day 11
August 31
Day 12
Sept 1
  • QUIZ - weather and climate so far
  • Prepare for lab 0
Day 13
Sept 5
Day 14
Sept 6

Next Generation Science Standards:




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