Nebraska Science K -12

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All resources in Nebraska Science K -12

Next Gen Storyline: Why Do Some Things Get Colder (or Hotter) When They React?

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In this high school physical sciences unit, students investigate why some substances absorb heat when they react, while others release it. Students first solve the mystery of where the energy goes in endothermic reactions by examining salt dissolution and using magnets as models for bonds. They then expand their investigations to look into where the energy comes from in exothermic reactions. The model they continue to develop using magnets, helps them account for why breaking bonds absorbs energy from the surroundings and forming bonds releases energy back into the surroundings. The end of the unit naturally motivates a new question to pursue in future units, “Why are some types of particles more attracted to one another than others?" nextgenerationstoryline.org

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Assessment, Case Study, Homework/Assignment, Lesson Plan, Module, Unit of Study

Author: Dorann Avey

What Is Biodiversity?

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Biodiversity is the spectacular variety of life on Earth and the essential interdependence among all living things. Students begin to learn about the term biodiversity at its most basic level. On their first field trip, students observe a natural space and report on what they see. They also begin to see the need for keeping written records and how to make scientific observations of their site. A series of optional mapping activities are presented that develop the skills required to create detailed and representational maps derived from observations and data.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Lesson Plan, Unit of Study

The Human Genome Project - The Use of Genetic Screening Technology

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This unit includes one week of lessons which immediately follow the Genetics and DNA units. The previous knowledge gained from these units, as well as a previous project where students researched and shared with their classmates a specific genetic disorder, will provide the background for students to participate in a debate about the ethical issues of applying information available through the Human Genome Project (HGP).

Material Type: Reading, Unit of Study

Authors: Ethel Gaides, Emelia Fleck, Beverly Tedeschi

Investigating a Deep Sea Mystery

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Investigating a Deep Sea Mystery is based on Deep-sea mystery solved: astonishing larval transformation and extreme sexual dimorphism unite three fish families by Johnson, et al. (2009)* published in Biology Letters, Royal Society. The deep sea fishes at the heart of the investigation and this activity were historically classified into three families or clades based on the obvious morphological differences between the members of each group. Over time, as new data was accumulated, a new hypothesis was generated; the three fish clades were really one. Johnson, et al. found patterns in collection data that supported an alternative relationship; that they are the males, females, and larvae of a single family or clade, and that the morphological differences are the result of extreme ontogenetic (developmental) metamorphosis and sexual dimorphism. In this activity students follow the steps of the science team to unravel the mystery of the fishes' classification by analyzing some of the same morphological and phylogenetic data as the science team.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Lesson Plan, Unit of Study

Author: Jennifer Collins

Keepers of the Gate

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Through two lessons and five activities, students explore the structure and function of cell membranes. Specific transport functions, including active and passive transport, are presented. In the legacy cycle tradition, students are motivated with a Grand Challenge question. As they study the ingress and egress of particles through membranes, students learn about quantum dots and biotechnology through the concept of intracellular engineering.

Material Type: Unit of Study

Author: Melinda M. Higgins

Unit 5: Evolution

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For this unit plan, see the old unit calendar (link on left sidebar, click ALT5 tab at the bottom).  Once we update this unit to the new Doc template, we will post it here. This is now unit 5, but it used to be unit 6 (we will update file and folder numbering as we continue to revise the units). Thanks for your patience as we work hard this year to update all of the materials to the new unit template and unit/standards arrangements.

Material Type: Unit of Study

3 - Nuclear Change

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In the Nuclear Change unit, students will learn about nuclear change through examining the phenomena of radon. Three questions that students will answer at the end of the unit are:  is air we breathe in buildings radioactive and what is Radon and how does it affect health? First, student will investigate what is radon. Next, students will build a atom to learn how atoms can exist in stable and unstable isotopes. Students learn about types of radiation and then complete an inquiry about half-life of atoms. Half lifes can be used to map geology and assess danger timelines. Next, students learn how nuclear change occurs through fusion or fission. Additionally, students learn that the high energy released has military/commercial uses, and the legacy of cosmic, geologic and human events and activities has impacted where radioactivity exists on the earth. Students end the unit with a cumulative Socratic seminar about Hanford while assessing risk and benefits of using nuclear reactions and recovering sites contaminated by radioactive materials is complex. At the end of the unit students discuss the following question: should parts of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation be opened as a recreation area or returned to Native Americans?

Material Type: Unit of Study

Ramp and Review (for High School)

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In this hands-on activity rolling a ball down an incline and having it collide into a cup the concepts of mechanical energy, work and power, momentum, and friction are all demonstrated. During the activity, students take measurements and use equations that describe these energy of motion concepts to calculate unknown variables and review the relationships between these concepts.

Material Type: Activity/Lab

Authors: Ben Sprague, Chris Yakacki, Denise W. Carlson, Janet Yowell, Malinda Schaefer Zarske

Waves

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Students will analyze the properties of waves as they interact with other objects. Students will design, build, and test a structure designed to withstand the force of a tsunami wave.

Material Type: Lesson Plan, Unit of Study

Author: Sarah Dalisky

Clean Up This Mess

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Students are challenged to design a method for separating steel from aluminum based on magnetic properties as is frequently done in recycling operations. To complicate the challenge, the magnet used to separate the steel must be able to be switched off to allow for the recollection of the steel. Students must ultimately design, test, and present an effective electromagnet.

Material Type: Unit of Study

Author: Justin Montenegro

Solar Water: Heat it Up!

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Students explore energy efficiency, focusing on renewable energy, by designing and building flat-plate solar water heaters. They apply their understanding of the three forms of heat transfer (conduction, convection and radiation), as well as how they relate to energy efficiency. They calculate the efficiency of the solar water heaters during initial and final tests and compare the efficiencies to those of models currently sold on the market (requiring some additional investigation by students). After comparing efficiencies, students explain how they would further improve their devices. Students learn about the trade-offs between efficiency and cost by calculating the total cost of their devices and evaluating cost per percent efficiency and per degree change of the water.

Material Type: Activity/Lab

Authors: Amanda Giuliani, Darcie Chinnis, Marissa H. Forbes, Odessa Gomez

Half-Life Activity

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The students will be exploring the concept of radioactive decay and half-life. They will be completing an activity, followed by discussion and and calculations. After discussion, the students will be completing a PHET simulation.

Material Type: Activity/Lab

Author: Teresa Walters

2 - Elements and the Periodic Table

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Students will learn about elements, atoms, and the Periodic table through the phenomena - How do you know if your water is safe to drink? What kind of substances in water might be hazardous? First, student will learn atoms are made up of subatomic particles, which give rise to predictable properties through a phet simulation. Next, students will try to build their own table looking for patterns in element cards. Students will then look at properties of elements which are divided into metals and nonmetals. Student will then look at electron configuration through a POGIl activity. Students will also complete a flame test activity. Finally, students when end the unit with a engineering project examining water quality to determine if it is safe to drink.

Material Type: Unit of Study

1 - Kinetic Molecular Theory (KMT)

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Students will learn about the the hazards chemicals pose to the people who use them while learning about states of matter and kinetic molecular theory. First, students examine physical properties and hazards of substances and mixtures. Next, students examine how different gases respond to temperature changes and how different concentrations of salt water respond to temperature changes. Students engage in collaboration, analysis of data through board discussions, and writing an analysis using claim-evidence-reasoning. Using a phet simulation, students then model what happens to particles during increase and decrease in energy. Students then investigate thermal transfer through a water mixing lab. Finally, students engage in an ice cream engineering activity to examine how different substances in similar conditions can have different properties which may be harmful or beneficial.

Material Type: Unit of Study