Science For Parents Newsletter

6th Six Weeks

Dear Parents,

This newsletter is intended to give parents an idea of what is being covered each six weeks in science and what their students should be learning.


Please contact Erika Vasquez, Director of Instruction for Science, if you have questions.

erika.vasquez@aliceisd.net

Kindergarten

Unit 09: Exploring Organisms and Environments- During this unit, students use their senses as a tool of observation to identify properties of organisms in the environment. They learn to sort plants and animals into groups based on physical characteristics such as color, size, body covering, or leaf shape. Additionally, students identify parts of plants such as roots, stem, and leaves and parts of animals such as head, eyes, and limbs. They also identify ways that young plants resemble the parent plant. Students make predictions based on observable patterns in nature such as the shapes of leaves and observe changes that are part of a simple life cycle of a plant: seed, seedling, plant, flower, and fruit. Students collect information using tools, ask questions about organisms, and record and organize data and observations using pictures, numbers, and words. Furthermore, students explore that scientists, such as botanists and zoologists, investigate different things in the natural world and use tools to help in their investigations. Students continue to communicate observations using related vocabulary and simple types of graphs (including those using pictures or real-objects), numbers, and words and practice safety during investigations.
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Kindergarten Vocabulary

  • Body covering – the material on the outside of an animal, such as feathers, fur / hair, scales, shells, skin, or exoskeleton
  • Botanist – a scientist who studies plants
  • Change – to become different from the way it was before
  • Flower – the part of a plant that produces fruit
  • Fruit – the part of the plant that contains seeds
  • Life cycle – sequential stages of growth and development that an organism goes through in its lifetime
  • Part – a portion of a natural object
  • Physical characteristics – a characteristic that is physical in nature, such as mass, shape, size, color, texture, number (e.g., limbs)
  • Resemble – to be like or similar to something else
  • Seed – small part of a flowering plant that grows into a new plant
  • Seedling – a young plant grown from a seed

1st Grade

Unit 10: Investigating Organisms and Environments-During this unit, students identify and explain a problem such as finding a home for a classroom pet and propose a solution in their own words. Students collect data and make observations using simple tools as they analyze and record examples of interdependence found in various situations (such as terrariums and aquariums or pet and care giver). Additionally, students gather evidence of interdependence among living organisms, such as energy transfer through food chains and animals using plants for shelter, and investigate how the external characteristics of an animal are related to where it lives, how it moves, and what it eats. Furthermore, students compare ways that young animals resemble their parents and observe and record life cycles of animals such as a chicken, frog, or fish. Students continue to use safe practices and record and organize data using pictures, words, and numbers (including graphs) within the science notebook. Graphs may include picture graphs, real-object graphs, or bar graphs.

1st Grade Key Vocabulary

  • Depend – relying entirely on someone or something
  • Food chain – representation of the passage of energy (food) from producers to the organisms that feed on them
  • Life cycle – sequential stages of growth and development that an organism goes through in its lifetime
  • Organism – a living thing that can function on its own
  • Resemble – to be like or similar to something else

2nd Grade

Unit 10: Organisms and Environments- During this unit, students investigate and record some of the unique stages that insects undergo during their life cycle. They compare and give examples of the ways living organisms depend on each other and on their environments such as food chains within a garden, park, beach, lake, and wooded area. In addition, students identify factors in the environment, including temperature and precipitation that affect growth and behavior such as migration, hibernation, and dormancy of living things. Students also plan and conduct descriptive investigations, such as how organisms grow; ask questions about organisms and events during their observations and investigations; and measure and compare organisms using appropriate tools as well as non-standard units that approximate metric units. Additionally, students identify and explain a problem in his / her own words and propose a task and solution for the problem, such as lack of water in a habitat. They compare results of investigations with what students and scientists know about the world and identify what a scientist is and explore what different scientists do. Finally, students communicate observations and justify explanations using student-generated data from simple descriptive investigations.
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Food Chains ,Food Webs,Energy Pyramid in Ecosystems-Video for Kids

2nd Grade Key Vocabulary

  • Adult – has three body sections, six legs, two antennae, and wings
  • Behavior – the actions or reactions of an object or organism
  • Consumer – an organism that eats other organisms (plants and / or animals) for food
  • Dormancy – a phase of minimal activity (e.g., trees in winter, frogs in winter)
  • Environment – all of the living and nonliving elements in a particular (geographic) area
  • Food chain – a representation of the flow of energy from the Sun through producers to consumers in an environment
  • Hibernation – a deep sleep-like state of inactivity in animals in which body processes slow down
  • Interdependence – beneficial relationships between organisms
  • Larva – eating and growing stage
  • Life cycle – sequential stages of growth and development that an organism goes through in its lifetime
  • Migration – to move from one place to another in search of food, water, or different temperatures
  • Organisms – a living thing that can function on its own
  • Precipitation – water that falls to the Earth’s surface as rain, snow, sleet, hail or fog
  • Producer – an organism that makes its own food (e.g., plants)
  • Pupa – transforming stage
  • Temperature – a way of measuring how hot or cold something is; temperature is measured using either the Fahrenheit (F) or Celsius (C) scale

3rd Grade

Unit 09: Investigating Ecosystems-During this final unit in Grade 3, students draw upon many of the science concepts introduced throughout the year. Earlier in the year, students investigated matter and energy, including the Sun and its impact on weather and the water cycle. They have studied processes that form and change different physical features of the Earth. The investigation of ecosystems in this unit refocuses students’ attention on the importance of the Sun to all life on Earth and the notion that we are all connected in a delicate system. Students plan and implement descriptive investigations including asking and answering questions, making inferences, and selecting and using equipment or technology needed, to solve a specific problem in the natural world. They observe and describe the physical characteristics of environments and how they support populations and communities within an ecosystem and also describe environmental changes such as floods and droughts where some organisms thrive and others perish or move to new locations. Additionally, students identify and describe the flow of energy in a food chain and predict how changes in a food chain affect the ecosystem such as removal of frogs from a pond or bees from a field. Students continue to collect, record, and analyze information using tools, and communicate valid conclusions supported by data in writing, by drawing pictures, and through verbal discussion.

3rd Grade Key Vocabulary

  • Community – populations that live in the same place at the same time
  • Consumer – an organism that eats other organisms (plants and / or animals) for food
  • Decomposer – an organism that gets energy by feeding on dead materials and waste
  • Ecosystem – the living and nonliving components of an environment
  • Food chain – representation of the flow of energy from the Sun through producers to consumers and decomposers in an ecosystem
  • Perish – to die
  • Population – all of the organisms of the same species that live in the same place at the same time
  • Predator – an animal that naturally preys on others
  • Prey – an animal that is hunted and killed by another for food
  • Producer – an organism that makes its own food (e.g., plants)
  • Thrive – to live, grow, and reproduce successfully
Animal Survival and Adaptation Animal Videos

4th Grade

Unit 09: Adaptations for Survival-During this unit, students explore how adaptations enable organisms to survive in their environment such as comparing birds’ beaks and leaves on plants. They are formally introduced to the term “adaptation” for the first time. Students use models to explore and compare the functionality of a variety of adaptations and then identify the limitations of the models, including accuracy and size. Finally, students analyze, evaluate, and critique scientific explanations by using empirical evidence and logical reasoning, to encourage critical thinking.


Unit 10: Life Cycles of Living Organisms-During this unit, students explore, illustrate, and compare life cycles in living organisms such as butterflies, beetles, radishes, or lima beans. They collect, record, and analyze information using tools and construct simple tables and charts using current technology to organize, examine, and evaluate data.

4th Grade Key Vocabulary

Unit 9-

  • Adaptations – structure, behavior, or another trait in an organism that helps it to survive in its environment
  • Camouflage – coloration of an organism that is designed to deceive other organisms or to help it hide from predators
  • Mimicry – a superficial resemblance of one organism to another or to another object in nature; this trick coloration helps the organism avoid predation

Unit 10-


  • Germinate – the period in a plant’s life cycle when a seed begins to grow (after a period of dormancy)
  • Life cycle – sequential stages of growth and development that an organism goes through in its lifetime
  • Metamorphosis – when an organism goes through many stages to reach adulthood
  • Seedling – a young plant grown from a seed, typically having a root, a shoot, and seed leaves

5th Grade

Unit 12: Designing Solutions- During this unit, students describe, plan, and implement simple experimental investigations testing one variable.

5th Grade Key Vocabulary

  • Control – the substance, object, or group in an experiment that is not changed
  • Hypothesis – an idea that can be tested by experiment or observation
  • Variable – a condition that is changed in an experiment in order to find out the effect of that change

6th Grade

Unit 11: Taxonomic Groups- During this unit, students learn that all living things are composed of cells and recognize that the presence of a nucleus determines whether a cell is prokaryotic or eukaryotic. Students also identify basic characteristics of organisms including autotrophic, heterotrophic, unicellular or multicellular, and modes of reproduction. They observe organisms using tools such as microscopes to gain a deeper understanding of what the basic characteristics look like in different organisms. Students recognize that the taxonomic system is based on understanding differences at the cellular level and the broadest taxonomic classification is divided into currently recognized Domains. Students construct tables to compare and contrast characteristics of organisms in order to determine their classification.


Unit 12: Ecosystems- During this unit, students describe biotic and abiotic factors of an ecosystem in which organisms interact. They must be able to identify which components of an ecosystem are biotic or abiotic. Students also study and diagram the levels of organization within an ecosystem, including organism, population, community, and ecosystem. When presented with a scenario or diagram, students must be able to identify which level of organization is represented.

Taxonomic Group 6th Grade

6th Grade Key Vocabulary


Unit 11-

  • Asexual reproduction – mode of reproduction with only one parent
  • Autotroph – organisms, known as producers in a food chain, capable of synthesizing their own food by a process known as photosynthesis; all plants and some forms of bacteria and other organisms
  • Cell – a basic unit of structure and function in living organisms
  • Cell theory – states that the cell is the basic unit of life, all living organisms are composed of cells, and all cells come from pre-existing cells
  • Domain – broadest taxonomic classification of organisms
  • Eukaryotic – cell that contains an organized nucleus
  • Heterotrophic – organisms, known as consumers in a food chain, which cannot synthesize their own food; carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores
  • Kingdom – second broadest taxonomic classification of organisms
  • Multicellular – organism made up of more than one cell
  • Nucleus – astructure within a cell that contains the cell’s DNA and is responsible for providing instructions to the cell, regarding growth and reproduction
  • Prokaryotic – cell that does not contain a nucleus
  • Sexual reproduction – mode of reproduction with two parents
  • Unicellular – organism made up of only one cell


Unit 12-

  • Abiotic – nonliving factors in the environment; physical rather than biological; do not come from living organisms
  • Biotic – living factors in the environment; relating to, produced by, or caused by living organisms
  • Community – all of the populations sharing a specific area or region
  • Ecosystem – the living and nonliving components of an environment
  • Organism – a living thing that can function on its own
  • Population – all of the members of a species living in a particular area at a particular time

7th Grade

Unit 10: Homeostasis- During this unit, students implement comparative and / or descriptive investigations to understand how organisms respond to external stimuli found in the environment such as phototropism and fight or flight. Additionally, students describe and relate responses in organisms that may result from internal stimuli, such as wilting in plants and fever or vomiting in animals that allow them to maintain balance.


Unit 11: Genetics- During this unit, students continue to develop their understanding that traits may be physical (e.g., hair color) or behavioral (e.g., birds nesting). They define heredity as the passage of genetic instructions from one generation to the next generation. Students construct charts to compare the results of uniform or diverse offspring from sexual or asexual reproduction. Additionally, students use models to recognize that inherited traits of individuals are governed in the genetic material found in the genes within chromosomes in the nucleus. They identify the advantages and limitations of such models. Furthermore, students relate the impact of research on scientific thought and society, including the history of science and contributions of relevant scientists.


Unit 12: Genetic Variations and Adaptations- During this unit, students explain variation within a population or species by comparing external features, behaviors, or physiology of organisms that enhance their survival such as migration, hibernation, or storage of food in a bulb. They identify changes in genetic traits that have occurred over several generations through natural selection and selective breeding such as the Galapagos Medium Ground Finch or domestic animals. Additionally, students examine organisms or their structures such as insects or leaves and use dichotomous keys for identification. Furthermore, students relate the impact of research on scientific thought and society, including the history of science and contributions of relevant scientists. Students demonstrate safe practices as outlined in the Texas Safety Standards.

7th Grade Key Vocabulary

Unit 10-

  • External stimulus – a change in the environment outside of the organism
  • Feedback mechanism – a response within a system that influences the activity of that system
  • Geotropism – growth that happens in organisms in response to gravity, such as the downward growth of plant roots
  • Homeostasis – the body’s ability to keep the internal balance of the body
  • Internal stimulus – a change within the organism
  • Phototropism – growth that happens in organisms in response to light, such as a stem bending toward a light source
  • Stable – balanced; unchanging
  • Stimulus – a thing or event that causes a response or reaction

Unit 11-

  • Asexual reproduction – genetic material is donated from only one parent; offspring are identical to the parent and each other (uniform)
  • Chromosome – made of DNA located in the nucleus; contains genetic information needed to carry our cell functions and make new cells
  • DNA – located in the nucleus; determines the genetic traits of an organism (deoxyribonucleic acid)
  • Gene – segment of DNA found on a chromosome; determines the inheritance of a particular trait
  • Heredity – the passage of genetic instructions from one generation to the next
  • Sexual reproduction – genetic material is donated from two parents; offspring differ from each parent and each other (diverse)
  • Traits – behavioral characteristics or physical attributes of an organism that are expressed by genes and/or influenced by the environment

Unit 12-

  • Adaptation – a change in structure or habits (behavior), often hereditary, by which an organism improves its condition in relationship to its environment
  • Dichotomous key – a tool used to identify species of organisms using opposing observable characteristics
  • Natural selection – process by which gene frequencies in a population change through certain individuals producing more offspring than others because they are better able to survive and reproduce organisms better suited to their environment
  • Physiology – the way in which a living organism or bodily part functions
  • Selective breeding – making deliberate crosses of plants or mating of animals, so the offspring will have a desired characteristic derived from one of the parents
  • Variation – a different form or version of something

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8th Grade

Unit 13: Student Designed Experiments- During this unit, students explore, in greater depth, a topic of interest to them. Additionally, they design and implement an experimental investigation to test a research-based hypothesis. Students demonstrate safe practices as outlined in the Texas Safety Standards.

8th Grade Key Vocabulary

  • Scientific inquiry – the diverse ways in which scientists study the natural world and propose explanations based on the evidence derived from their work

Biology

Unit 12: Plant Systems- During this unit, students examine cells of specialized structures in plants, parts that make up plant systems, and how different systems in plants interact to perform the functions of response, transport, development, and reproduction. In addition, the relationship of natural selection to adaptation and to the development of diversity among plant species is analyzed and evaluated. Students also compare characteristics of the plant kingdom with other taxonomic groups. Students describe the role of internal feedback mechanisms in plants and summarize the role of microscopic plants like algae in the health of ecosystems. During this unit, students continue to use safe practices to plan a comparative investigation examining the importance of starch in certain plant structures, such as fruits and vegetables. During investigations, students ask questions, formulate testable hypotheses, collect and analyze data, and make measurements with precision and accuracy.


Unit 13: Animal Systems- During this unit, students examine specialized cells from various tissues in animals, organs that make up animal systems, and how different systems in animals interact to perform the functions of homeostasis, regulation, nutrient absorption, reproduction, and defense from injury or illness. Students also compare characteristics and functions of systems within the Animal Kingdom to systems found in other taxonomic groups. In addition, the relationship between microorganisms and the health of animals, especially in humans, is explored. During this unit, students continue to use safe practices, especially in the handling of live and preserved specimens, to plan a comparative investigation examining preserved animals and the organs and structures that make up their organ systems. During investigations, students ask questions, formulate testable hypotheses, collect and analyze data, and make measurements with precision and accuracy.


Unit 14: Unit 14: Making Connections Through Scientific Inquiry- During this unit, students make connections between the biological concepts learned throughout the course by using scientific process skills including examining and evaluating various promotional materials and the data related to these materials. Students practice drawing inferences by analyzing the accuracy, quality, and reliability of information from various sources. Students design and implement an experiment to test a research-based hypothesis. Students have the opportunity to research significant contributions of scientists with a focus on the experimental investigations that lead to their contributions and/or discoveries.

Biology Key Vocabulary

Unit 12-

  • Shoot system – above-ground part of a plant that includes the organs such as leaves, buds, stems, flowers (if the plant has any), and fruits (if the plant has any)
  • Root system – below-ground part of a plant that includes the organs such as roots, tubers, and rhizomes
  • Tropism – turning of all or part of an organism in a particular direction in response to an external stimulus
  • Stomata – minute pores in the epidermis of a leaf or stem through which gases and water vapor pass
  • Transpiration – process of water movement through a plant and its evaporation from aerial parts, such as from the stoma on leaves but also from stems and flowers
  • Xylem – conducting tissue in plants that transports fluid through the plant
  • Phloem – conducting tissue in plants that transports nutrients through the plant
  • Carpel – female reproductive structure in plants that includes the stigma, style, and ovary
  • Stamen – male reproductive structure in plants that includes the anther and filament

Unit 13-

  • Homeostasis – regulation of an organism’s internal environment in order to maintain conditions suitable for survival
  • Tissue – an aggregate of cells in an organism that have similar structure and function
  • Organ – a group of tissues that perform a specific function or group of functions.
  • Organ (body) system – a group of organs that work together to perform one or more functions
  • Feedback mechanism – a process by which a system responds to the disruption of its normal state either in the same direction (positive feedback) or in the opposite direction (negative feedback); the system accomplishes this by using the condition of one component to regulate the function of another
  • Regulation – an organism’s controlled response to internal or external conditions

Unit 14-

  • Scientific inquiry – the diverse ways in which scientists study the natural world and propose explanations based on the evidence derived from their work

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