In this unit students investigate the characteristics and interfaces between the Earth’s four major sphere systems: the geosphere (solid and molten rock, soil, and sediments), the hydrosphere (water and ice), the atmosphere (air), and the biosphere (living things, including humans). Student teams demonstrate understanding of these major systems by designing interactive card games and 3D water cycle models. In the Design Challenge, student teams use various materials to create 3D models of two sphere systems and use the models to describe how the systems interact.
- Lesson 1: Students define and describe the characteristics of the geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere
- Lesson 2: Students explain the interactions between different spheres as they are encountered in a student-created card game
- Lesson 3: Students create a model of the water cycle to describe the interactions between the spheres represented in the model
- Design Challenge: Students design and build detailed models of the interaction between two Earth spheres and describe the interaction in terms of survival
Technology is incorporated throughout this unit in the form of online videos, animations, and short articles. Lesson 1 includes videos that provide students with information on Earth’s spheres. Students use this information in Lesson 2 to develop an interactive card game that incorporates Earth sphere characteristics and interactions as its central theme (CCSS SL.5.4). Lesson 3 focuses heavily on the water cycle for which students build models as an example of all four spheres interacting simultaneously (5-ESS2-1). In the Design Challenge, student teams ideate, prototype, and test models against a set of criteria and constraints as engineers would. They present and explain their models to an audience, which simulates how engineers and researchers defend their claims.