BETTER LIVING THROUGH CHEMISTRY
A Science Unit Using a Wiki

Unit Summary
This unit looks at the structure of matter as it relates to the chemistry of living things. Students develop a familiarity with the way we organize and understand matter. They characterize matter via several sets of categories: heterogeneous or homogeneous; solids, liquids, or gases; metals and nonmetals; organic and inorganic; and by the applications to living things. Finally, they look at applications of select elements and how they affect living systems to improve the quality of our lives.
Subject Area Science: Focus on Physical Science
Grade Level 8th grade
Approximate Time Needed 1 month, although the specific activities in this unit will be scattered among the month with additional content and activities
Unit Wiki: Costa's Science Solutions
Targeted Content Standards and Benchmarks
Structure of Matter
  1. Each of the more than 100 elements of matter has distinct properties and a distinct atomic structure. All forms of matter are composed of one or more of the elements. As a basis for understanding this concept:
    1. Students know the structure of the atom and know it is composed of protons, neutrons, and electrons.
    2. Students know that compounds are formed by combining two or more different elements and that compounds have properties that are different from their constituent elements.
    3. Students know the states of matter (solid, liquid, gas) depend on molecular motion.
    4. Students know that in solids the atoms are closely locked in position and can only vibrate; in liquids the atoms and molecules are more loosely connected and can collide with and move past one another; and in gases the atoms and molecules are free to move independently, colliding frequently.
Chemistry of Living Systems (Life Sciences)
  1. Principles of chemistry underlie the functioning of biological systems. As a basis for understanding this concept:
    1. Students know that carbon, because of its ability to combine in many ways with itself and other elements, has a central role in the chemistry of living organisms.
    2. Students know that living organisms are made of molecules consisting largely of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulfur.
    3. Students know that living organisms have many different kinds of molecules, including small ones, such as water and salt, and very large ones, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and DNA.
Science Content Standards, Grade 8, http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/scgrade8.asp
Student Objectives/Learning Outcomes
# Students will create models of simple elements and compounds.
  1. Students will be able to differentiate between homogeneous and heterogeneous; element and compound; solid, liquid, and gas; and physical and chemical properties.
  2. Students will select two different elements that have both physical and chemical similarities and differences and create a similarities/differences chart to compare and contrast the elements (WRT atomic structure, physical characteristics, chemical properties) and self-assess their chart to determine if they have sufficient detail (self-direction)
  3. Students will research, analyze, and evaluate two applications of the elements that are advancements in chemical biology to determine the social and personal benefits and risks.
  4. They will further compare the nature of the compounds (in #2) to the individual elements (of #1) to confirm that they have different properties.
  5. Students will electronically communicate and provide feedback with others through development of a publication and blog.
(focus on 21st skills: problem identification, formulation and solution; social responsibility; information and media literacy skills, communication skills, and critical thinking and systems thinking)

Curriculum-Framing Questions
Essential Question
Why does science matter?
Unit Questions
Is there better living through chemistry?
OR
“Better living through chemistry” was a DuPont advertising slogan from 1940-1980. Is this phrase valid?
Content Questions
What are the building blocks of matter?
Which elements have the most important applications to living systems?
What does the field of chemical biology cover?
What advances in chemistry and chemical biology have improved our daily lives?
Student Assessment Plan
Assessment Summary
* Students will be assessed throughout the project.
*
Gauging student knowledge will be done via the PowerPoint Presentation Why Does Science Matter? to brainstorming activity on examples of better living through chemistry.* Progress monitoring will be accomplished by self-monitoring via the Project Checklist, Element Comparison/Contrast Checklist. In addition, a Quiz on Terms will be given for definitions and terms provided on the Wiki. * Feedback will be given on the Wiki using the Wiki Feedback Form – which students will review as a class.
  • Final evaluation will be done with the Project Scoring Guide and Self-Assessment of Group Participation.
Assessment Resources
Instructional Procedures
  1. Introduce the Essential Question and gauge student understanding by showing the presentation, Why Does Science Matter? Record ideas on the Costa’s Science Solutions Wiki. Let students know we will return to this question after we learn how matter is structured and organized.

  1. Begin the presentation, Studying All That Matters – and go through to the “A Very Lovely Poem.”
    1. Have students create the Matter concept map.
    2. Have students complete the S, L, G chart.
    3. Students complete their Element Comparison/Contrast Chart.
  2. Introduce the Costa’s Science Solutions Project by returning students to the Wiki to review their brainstorming. Introduce the Group Project, show the checklist and the Wiki.
  3. Students are grouped and share their Element Comparison/Contrast Chart to identify possible uses that could be used for the Group Advances Wiki Page. They also come up with a group name and add this information to their Wiki. They upload their scanned charts to their group page.
  4. Provide time in class for students to meet in groups, research advances, plan and create their Wiki page, and post terms and their summaries. Have students complete the Self Assessment of Group Participation.
  5. After #6 is complete, assign students the task of reviewing each other’s pages and composing an answer to the Essential Question (first in Word and then copy/paste to EQ page).
  6. Distribute announcement/feedback flyer on Wiki to parents and interested parties. Invite and provide deadline for feedback.
  7. Celebrate and move on to next project!
Additional Resources* Parent Brochure on Unit

Accomodations for Students with Special Needs
* Students will be grouped and assigned roles and/or tasks within their group that allow them to make useful contributions.
* Use of project checklist will insure that they understand project requirements.
  • Guided notes, vocabulary lists, and PowerPoint presentations will help students access the content.
  • Additional
support will be provided in Resource Class by the special education teacher.

Accomodations for English Learners
* Students will be grouped and assigned roles within their group that allow them to make useful contributions.
* Use of project checklist and scorbric will insure that they understand project requirements.
  • Guided notes, vocabulary lists, and PowerPoint presentations will help students access the content.
  • Additional support will be provided in ESL class by the English learner teacher.
  • To support the development of academic language skills in languages other than English, some Extra Credit options may be completed in languages other than English.

Suggestions for Gifted Students
* Students will be grouped and assigned roles within their group that allow them to make useful contributions.
* Use of project checklist will include team and individual extra credit options that also support project assessment.
  • To support the development of academic language skills in languages other than English, some Extra Credit options may be completed in languages other than English.