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7th Grade Science Teachers
  Julia Hall (925) 258-3090 ex: 6279 7th Grade Science
  Marshall Sachs (925) 258-6281 Science

7th Grade Science

Project-Based Science 2019-20

Evaluate the State of the Earth and take action

Investigate the biosphere, atmosphere and geosphere, human impacts and solutions with ChromeBooks, activities and projects in the lab and outside.  

1. Introductions: Name games. Find your peeps & seats. How we’ll work together. Start to find your ‘sweet spot’ - the intersection of what you love to do, your skills and talents, and what the world needs. We’ll consider what exactly IS truth? What is scientific truth and why is it so important? You’ll participate in the Socrates Café, online research, video clips and team building challenges. [PBL, creativity, collaborative norms for creative groups, critical thinking and finding and citing reliable sources] 10.


2. Solar Ovens: Make a solar oven to cook a mini marshmallow into a mini s’mores.  Investigate heat transfer and optics. Learn more about the greenhouse effect, climate change and the role of solar ovens in developing countries. Research and make  posters to show real solar ovens used in the world with labels showing how they work. How do solar ovens relate to the Earth’s energy balance? Review of the greenhouse effect and climate change. [Thermodynamics, engineering, optics, Earth’s albedo, scientific surveying, energy transformation, climate change.] 16


3. Nature Light and Dark:  Show how you feel about the state of nature with photographs and poetry.  2


4. What’s the state of our environment from local to global? Outside observation skills. Figure out inter relationships in our local hills and creeks from clues like prints, scat and direct observation. Add researched info. Make a giant interdependence web. Use it to predict opportunities and threats to our local and state ecosystems. Includes eco games, the state of life on Earth and true stories of hope, including 100 climate change solutions from ‘Drawdown’. Mini project: Make a sealed terrarium that lasts for a month! OR culture microbes in a pond water jar. [Photosynthesis, respiration, energy flow, Food webs, ecology, populations and the cascade effect] 


5. What’s the state of food?  How is our food produced? Is ‘organic’ worth it? What will we grow? What do plants need to grow (review of photosynthesis, nutrient cycles) How? Research, share your plan and vote for the best ones. Prepare, plant, tend, improve and harvest! What is the state of topsoil and what is the effect of intensive food production? What are the effects of food production on the environment? What are the alternatives? [Soil science, nutrient cycling, photosynthesis, horticulture, agriculture.]12


6. Orinda’s Take Action Project: Rank threats to our world and sort 100 solutions from “Drawdown”. Start doing some small thing at home to help. Monitor the before-and-after difference that you made. Scale it up as if everyone at school did the same for a year. What big problem does your action help? What organizations are already doing something?  Write a report and make an ad to persuade others to take effective action to make the world a better place. Your ad will be played at the Orinda Takes Action Film Festival. [Sustainability, environmental science, climate change, resource shortages, plastics problems] 19


7. A Brief History of Life and the Earth: Learn about the formation and structure of the Earth and continents, and the evolution of life. Then develop a scale to truly understand deep time. What is the “Anthropocene” and how do current rates of extinction compare to events in the distant past?  [Earth history, extinctions, interpreting graphs, climate change, models, scale, plate tectonics, cognitive psychology, math, art, teaching skills]


8. The State of Mineral Resources: How do you ‘read’ rocks for evidence for the story of life and formation of the Earth, what are valuable minerals? This mini-unit will help you understand the evidence behind the timeline of the earth and plate tectonics as well as the finite source of many products we rely on. [Rock identification, and categorization, observation and inference, mineral resources.] 5


9. Orinda Takes Action Film Festival:  Elementary classes, parents and Orinda community invited to see projections of the best of Nature Light and Dark pictures and poetry projected on each end of the MPR. Posters of solutions and QR codes to video ads to persuade people to commit money, time or to make changes in behaviors to benefit the environment. Commitments will be recorded on a ‘leaderboard’ app projected and shared with the public. Students will follow up and record what was actually done by Open House, to be shared with local media. 


10. Survive the Next Big Ones: Why are we at risk from natural disasters? And earthquakes in particular? How big is the risk and what can we do to stay safe? Learn all about plate tectonics and earthquake engineering with labs and challenges. Analyze recent seismic data to estimate our risk. Make open house posters to educate parents about how to keep your family safe. [Plate tectonics, rock cycle, seismic engineering, teaching inquiry skills] 18


11. Genetics: Would you get your DNA checked? Why or why not? What do you need to know to make a good decision? DNA and protein synthesis, GMOs, gene editing with CRISPR and implications of genetic engineering for the future. [Genetics, developmental psychology] 20


12. Sex Ed: Learn the science behind sexual reproduction in plants, animals and us, including the genetics of gender, the gender spectrum, development, pregnancy and The Question Box [Sex education, reproductive system] 14

13. Sweet Spot Wrap Up: What have you most enjoyed? Go back over your journal and highlight what you’ve enjoyed most. Make your sweet spot diagram to share at Open House. Harvest Festival/Letter to 7th graders and Dog Days. 3

Take-a-Break Days/Kids' choice days:

Innovation Opportunities: Pick one to work on from the brainstorm board. See what’s already out there. Come up with a plan/invention of your own.

Cool News in Science: You’ll get regular opportunities to keep up with ANY area of science through TED talks and the very latest magazine articles. 

Creative Collaboration Games: To hone our ability to work, learn and innovate together. 

Go outside!

Working in the garden - see list of tasks. 

Environmental observations: Track animals from signs. Identify local species. 

Nature Light and Dark: Take more beautiful and informative pictures to illustrate concepts we are studying from the real world. Add to our classroom art/science gallery.

Signs of Credible Hope: Look for scientifically valid ideas that are helping to solve a threat to our future. 

What kind of ‘Creative’ are you? Card sorts to find quotes that resonate and inspire you.