Energy and Matter NGSS MS PS3-4


This is a great unit to begin the year with! In the Energy and Matter mini unit, students find relevance in science as they connect Dr. Shirley Jackson’s childhood activities to her illustrious career in physics. They practice lab skills, plan and carry out investigations and construct their own understanding of the relationships between matter, mass, temperature and energy.


Extension activities challenge students to build their own thermometer!



Anchor Phenomenon Ideas: Set out a few graduated cylinders with different amounts of water and a few density blocks of the same volume and different mass. Ask students what is the same and what is different about these samples. How do they know? As they discuss the evidence needed to answer their questions (mass and volume measurements) review how to use common lab equipment.




Make it Relevant: Focus on making connections between the skills you are practicing in class and every day life. For example, ask students about their favorite recipe. Do they need exact measurements? What would happen if you used one tablespoon of baking soda instead of one teaspoon when you were making cookie dough?

Do your students see themselves in science? PBS has complied this list of Ten Black Scientists Science Teachers Should Know About along with lesson resources. Pull in these stories and others throughout your year to show your students scientists look like them.

Tips and Tricks: Spend time getting to know your students as they share their interests with you. Encourage kids to make connections between what they are interested in now and future careers. For a deeper dive into science career exploration, check out our Science and Engineering Practices with Career Exploration mini unit.

As students design their experiment for question four, remind kids to have one independent variable and keep everything else constant. The summative assessment gives students another chance to practice this skill.

Review with students that heat is the transfer of energy from something at a higher temperature to something at a lower temperature. You can't transfer cold!

Student samples of experiment design and analysis.

The heat energy moves from the warmer water to the colder ice.

Extension Activity: Here is a quick video that demonstrates one way to build a thermometer. For an extra challenge, ask students how they would calibrate the thermometers they built.