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Seventh-grade students in Clayton will complete the following units:

Sunlight and Energy
Students will design a device to measure the amount of energy that is received by one square centimeter of Earth’s surface in one minute. The struggle to obtain this measurement (known as the solar constant) will lead them to investigate different properties of light. Students will investigate how different colored surfaces interact with the light as well as materials of different densities. They will then begin to make and observe models of the electromagnetic spectrum in an effort to understand what caused the observed phenomena. All of their learning will be used to help students modify the design of their solar constant device and attempt to get a more accurate measurement.

• Design, construct, and evaluate devices to measure the solar constant
• Analyze data to identify the relationships between the properties of light and the area illuminated at a distance from the source
• Formulate “rules” for the interaction of light with colored surfaces and filters
• Compile data to support the phenomena of color addition and color subtraction
• Discover and explore the relationship between energy, mass, specific heat, and change in temperature
• Apply a wave model to differentiate between colors of light

Space Systems
Following the unit on light, students discover that not all places on our planet receive the same amount of energy from the sun. Because of Earth's tilted axis and its revolution and rotation, Earth experiences seasons due to the resulting changes in the hours and intensity of daylight. This "dance" between the sun and Earth becomes even more interesting when considering the moon. Students explore the relative positions of these celestial bodies and the resulting phases of the moon as well as solar and lunar eclipses. Finally, students investigate the force of gravity in our universe, the mass of objects and the relative distances between them, resulting in solar systems and galaxies.

• Identify and diagram features of the geographic coordinate system and diagram and  explain the meaning of the tropic lines
• Collect and interpret data to compare the amount of daylight hours that different cities receive throughout the year
• Develop models to illustrate Earth’s orbit around the sun
• Explain the relationship between Earth’s tilt and orbit around the sun causing seasons
• Summarize how the angle of the sun changes throughout the year from the perspective of Clayton, Missouri
• Develop a model to identify, illustrate, and sequence the phases of the moon
• Diagram and justify the relative positions of the sun, earth, and moon that would result in lunar and solar eclipses
• Correlate the appropriate moon phase with each type of eclipse
• Develop a model of gravity
• Determine gravity as the cause of the organization of solar systems and galaxies

Growth and Development
Students study how life is possible on Earth as a result of the light and energy provided by the sun. They will begin by distinguishing living versus non-living matter, using the seven characteristics of living things. The most definitive characteristic is that all living things are made of cells. Students investigate both plant and animal cells in an attempt to understand their similarities and differences, with a focus on the cell membrane, cell wall, and chloroplasts. Students then broaden their view to see how these cells make tissues, which make organs and organ systems, which make complex life possible.

• Identify and evaluate the characteristics of living things using observations and reasoning
• Distinguish the parts of animal and plant cells
• Correlate the function of cell parts to the function of the cell
• Compare animal cell parts to plant cell parts based upon their different structural needs and ways that they obtain and use energy
• Compare and contrast the reactants and products of photosynthesis and cellular respiration
• Organize cells, tissues, organs, and organ systems into their appropriate organizational levels

Inheritance of Traits
Life on our planet is not the result of living organisms, but the ability of those organisms to successfully reproduce over time. Students study the organisms that reproduce asexually, but intentionally focus their attention on the genetics of sexual reproduction. Constructing and dissecting DNA models will help students gain an understanding of how genes code for alleles and traits. Beginning with Mendel’s discoveries, students investigate the patterns of inheritance with the help of Punnett squares.

• Compare the offspring of sexual and asexual reproduction to their parents
• Collect and interpret data to identify the frequency of appearance of human traits
• Describe the inheritance of an organism in terms of it’s genotype and phenotype
• Predict the traits of a genetic cross using Punnett squares
• Construct a model of DNA
• Use evidence to prove that mutations can be beneficial, harmful, or neutral

Motion, Forces and Energy
In this Physics unit, students explore how objects on Earth interact with each other. Through changes in force and transfers of energy (kinetic and configurational), students study how this impacts motion, distance, acceleration, speed, direction, time, and velocity. Students grapple with these measurements and how they relate to each other. Students will also look at how the force of gravity influences an object’s motion. They will also investigate the concepts of Newton’s Laws of Motion and the role they play on the interaction of objects.

• Demonstrate understanding of position, velocity, and graphs of motion
• Analyze how distance, time, and speed are related
• Graph distance, speed, and time
• Analyze how acceleration is related to time and velocity
• Identify variables that could impact the outcome of an experiment
• Identify significant differences in data
• Describe different types of forces and explain the effect force has on motion
• Describe the effect that gravity has on matter
• Demonstrate understanding of Newton’s Laws of Motion
• Calculate kinetic and configurational energy
• Analyze how kinetic and configurational energy are related
• Demonstrate understanding of how matter and energy move through the Earth system