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Science Can Make You Strong

This lesson’s primary goal is to help meet one of the most essential challenges in middle and high school science: How do you help students distinguish between sound science and unintentional misinformation or even blatant pseudoscience? This lesson applies information and insights gained from the first four nature of science COVID-19 storylines to investigate an important current topic — the effectiveness of masks. As new discoveries emerge, this lesson will continue to be updated for relevance. Alternatively, a similar evaluation is presented for investigating "eco-friendly" products.

NGSS Standards

DCIs (Disciplinary Core Ideas)
Nature of Science/Epidemiology Storyline:
  1. MS-ETS1.A1: The more precisely a design task’s criteria and constraints can be defined, the more likely it is that the designed solution will be successful. Specification of constraints includes consideration of scientific principles and other irrelevant knowledge that are likely to limit possible solutions.
  2. MS-ETS1.B2: There are systematic processes for evaluating solutions with respect to how well they meet the criteria and constraints of a problem.
  3. MS-ETS1.B3: Sometimes parts of different solutions can be combined to create a solution that is better than any of its predecessors.
  4. MS-ETS1.C1: Although one design may not perform the best across all the tests, identifying the characteristics of the design that performed the best in each test can provide useful information for the redesign process — that is, some of those characteristics may be incorporated into the new design.
  5. MS-ESS3.C2: Scientists and engineers can make major contributions by developing technologies that produce less pollution and waste and that preclude ecosystem degradation.
  6. HS-ETS1.A1: Criteria and constraints also include satisfying any requirements set by society, such as taking issues of risk mitigation into account, and they should be quantified to the extent possible and stated in such a way that one can tell if a given design meets them.
  7. HS-ETS1.B1: When evaluating solutions, it is important to take into account a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, and to consider social, cultural, and environmental impacts.
Ecology (Green Products) Storyline:
  1. MS-LS2.C2: Biodiversity describes the variety of species found in earth’s terrestrial and oceanic ecosystems. The completeness of integrity of an ecosystem’s biodiversity is often used as a measure of its health.
  2. MS-LS4-D1: Changes in biodiversity can influence humans’ resources, such as food, energy, and medicines, as well as ecosystem services that humans rely on — for example, water purification and recycling.
  3. HS-ESS3.C1: The sustainability of human societies and the biodiversity that supports them requires responsible management of natural resources.
  4. HS-ESS3.C2: Scientists and engineers can make major contributions by developing technologies that produce less pollution and waste and that preclude ecosystem degradation.

Performance Expectations

Nature of Science/Epidemiology Storyline:
  1. MS-ETS1-1: Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
  2. MS-ETS1-2: Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
  3. MS-ETS1-3: Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
  4. HS-ETS-1-1: Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants.
  5. HS-ETS-1-3: Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.
Ecology (Green Products) Storyline:
  1. MS-LS2-5: Evaluate competing designs solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services.
  2. HS-ESS3-3: Create a computational simulation to illustrate the relationships among the management of natural resources, the sustainability of human populations, and biodiversity.
  3. HS-ESS3-4: Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on human systems.

Other Relevant NGSS References

  1. NGSS Appendix F: Science and Engineering Practices in the NGSS
  2. NGSS Appendix G: Crosscutting Concepts
  3. NGSS Appendix H: Understanding the Scientific Enterprise: The Nature of Science in the Next Generation Science Standards
  4. NGSS Appendix J: Science, Technology, Society and the Environment

Note: Due to the nature of this entire unit, these four appendices are a vital component of why these activities are important in the science classroom. While a wide variety of science topics are selected to demonstrate the nature of science, all five mini-unit lesson sets incorporate the ideals of these four appendices and provide numerous opportunities for the application of scientific knowledge across a variety of disciplines.

This is a beta version of Lesson Five.

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