Dear Sixth Grade Families;
Welcome to the Ann Arbor Public Schools Family Pages. We hope the information you find here assists you in supporting your child while s/he is learning important skills and concepts throughout the sixth grade year.
Light & Matter
Water Cycle, Weather & Climate
Plate Tectonics & Rock Cycling
Cells & Systems
District Science Department Chair
2022-23 Sixth Grade Science Units
How does a one-way mirror work?
Students build a scaled box model of what they see in a video of a one-way mirror experience to test out their ideas about how these mirrors work. Using two boxes combined together with a one-way mirror in between the two, students vary the presence of light in the two boxes to figure out how a one-way mirror works and improve their initial models so they accurately explain how light is reflected and transmitted through materials and the basics of how these behaviors of light result in the images we see.
Students also develop the foundation for classroom norms for collaboration that will be important in this and the next science courses while posing and answering their scientific questions using scientific ways of thinking and communicating.
Learn more on Atlas: Light and Matter
This unit on thermal energy transfer begins with students testing whether a new plastic cup sold by a store keeps a drink colder for longer compared to the regular plastic cup that comes free with the drink. Students investigate the different cup features they predict are important to explaining the phenomenon. They model how matter can enter or exit the cup via evaporation, explore open vs. closed systems, temperature changes and energy transfer (absorption of light and thermal energy) to explain why one cup behaves differently than the other. They are then challenged to design their own drink container that can perform as well as the store-bought container, following a set of design criteria and constraints.
Learn more on Atlas: Thermal Energy
Why does a lot of hail, rain, or snow fall at some times and not others?
Students explore a series of hailstorm events from different locations across the country at different times of the year. The differences in weather conditions, hail size and other factors spark ideas for investigations to figure out how ice can fall from the sky on a summer day, how clouds form, why some clouds produce storms with large amounts of precipitation and others don't, and how all that water gets into the air in the first place.
Learn more on Atlas: Water Cycle, Weather, Climate
What Causes Earth's Surface to Change?
Mountains move! And there are ocean fossils on top of Mt. Everest! In this plate tectonics and rock cycling unit, students come to see that the Earth is much more active and alive than they thought. Students investigate other earthquakes and landforms, such as mountains and ridges that correspond to earthquake patterns. They use a data visualization tool, and study GPS data. Students develop an Earth model and study mantle convection motion to explain how movement of Earth’s surface could be caused by processes below the surface. They also develop models to explain different ways plates collide and spread apart.
Learn more on Atlas: Earth's Systems: Geoscience
“Where do Natural Hazards happen and how do we prepare for them?”
The emphasis is on how some natural hazards, such as volcanic eruptions and severe weather, are preceded by phenomena that allow for reliable predictions, but others, such as earthquakes, occur suddenly and with no notice, and thus are not yet predictable. Examples of natural hazards can be taken from interior processes (such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions), surface processes, or severe weather events. Examples of data can include locations, magnitudes, and frequencies of the hazards. Examples of technologies can be global (such as satellite systems to monitor hurricanes or forest fires) or local (such as building basements in tornado-prone regions or reservoirs to mitigate droughts). Learn more on ATLAS: Natural Disasters
How Do Living Things Heal?
This unit launches with students hearing about an injury that happened to a middle school student that caused him to need stitches, pins, and a cast. They analyze doctor reports and develop an initial model for what is going on in our body when it heals. Students investigate what the different parts of our body are made of, from the macro scale to the micro scale. They figure out that parts of our body are made of cells and that these cells work together for our body to function. Students investigate what happens when cells make more cells, what cells need to make more cells, and how cells get what they need to make more cells. Lastly, interactions between the different systems in the body are explored to explain the various events of healing that took place in response to the injury at the start of the unit.