Dear Seventh 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 they are learning important skills and concepts throughout the seventh grade. Seventh grade science is an exciting opportunity for students to add additional layers of complexity to the science practices they made use of in their sixth grade year. For example, they will expand their data analysis and interpretation skills to include making sense of more sophisticated and varied graphs, diagrams and data sets. They will become more independent in the design of investigations, making decisions about what data is most important to collect in order to answer a particular scientific question, even in generating the scientific questions for exploration. Students will apply grade-appropriate mathematical thinking to their scientific work.
While they are deepening their science practice (the ways in which they do science), they will be exploring each of the science disciplines in additional depth. Reinforcing and adding to the concepts of matter, energy and cells from grade 6, they will apply those concepts in new contexts and add additional core ideas to the foundations. For example, the knowledge about energy transfer explored early in grade 6, applied to weather systems and earth processes in grade 6, will be applied to chemical reactions in both living and non-living systems in grade 7. The nature of invisible particles of matter, explored in grade 6, will be expanded from how they move and transfer energy, but also that these particles are made of atoms combining to form molecules and that these particles are conserved and have specific properties that can be used to identify them. Further, the nature of energy and matter in living systems can explain how we live, grow and sustain our lives through metabolic processes like photosynthesis and cellular respiration. Lastly, understanding several Earth processes from grade 6 will spiral into their understanding of human impacts on the Earth's resources and impacts on the cycles that sustain it and its inhabitants.
Cells and Systems
Chemical Reactions & Matter
Chemical Reactions & Energy
Matter Cycling and Photosynthesis
District Science Department Chair
2022-2023 Seventh Grade Science Units
Students will explore a variety of organisms and understand the ways in which organisms and their life-sustaining structures and processes are similar and different. Students will develop skills while using a compound microscope. Students will study cell structure and function of various organisms and cell types, as well as cell division and growth. This basic look at cells will serve as the foundation for in-depth understandings of how cells and tissues function to create interacting systems that sustain life later this year in the metabolism and photosynthesis units. It will also serve as an important foundation for deeper understanding when exploring genetics and natural selection in the 8th grade units.
This unit will support students' conceptual understanding of chemical reactions for middle school science; a topic that is foundational to much science learning. Understanding atomic level reactions is crucial for learning physical, life, earth, and space science. In this unit, students will explore interactions of atoms and molecules far too small to see by observing and analyzing a bath bomb as it fizzes and eventually disappears in the water. Their observations and questions about what is going on drive learning that digs into a series of related phenomena as students iterate and improve their models depicting what happens during chemical reactions. By the end of the unit, students have a firm grasp on how to model simple molecules, know what to look for to determine if chemical reactions have occurred, and apply their knowledge to chemical reactions to show how mass is conserved when atoms are rearranged.
Focal science concepts include patterns; scale, proportion and quantity; matter and energy. While students use many of the science practices in this unit, focal science practices include constructing explanations, analyzing and interpreting data, and engaging in argument from evidence.
Students are introduced to a flameless heater in a Meal, Ready-to-Eat (MRE) that provides hot food to people by just adding water. Students explore the inside of an MRE flameless heater, then do investigations to collect evidence to support the idea that this heater and another type of flameless heater (a single-use hand warmer) are undergoing chemical reactions as they get warm. Students have an opportunity to reflect on the engineering design process, define stakeholders, and refine the criteria and constraints for the design solution. Student processes will include investigating how much food and reactants they should include in their homemade heater designs and the chemical reactions involved and a series of iterative testing and redesigning. This iterative design cycle includes peer feedback, consideration of design modification consequences, and analysis of impacts on stakeholders. Finally, students optimize their designs and have another team test their homemade heater instructions. Students will come to understand the core idea that chemical reactions can release or store energy.
Focal science concepts include systems and system models; matter and energy. Focal science practices include planning and carrying out investigations and designing solutions.
This unit on metabolic reactions in the human body starts out with students exploring a real case study of a middle-school girl, who reported some alarming symptoms to her doctor. After exploring her symptoms, the case sparks questions and ideas for investigations around trying to figure out which pathways and processes in her body might be functioning differently than a healthy system and why. Students investigate data and draw from their results from laboratory experiments on the chemical changes involving the processing of food. They use digital interactives to explore how food is transported, transformed, stored, and used across different body systems in all people. Building on understanding of energy and matter in chemical reactions from the previous two units, students work through figuring out what is causing these symptoms by understanding structure, function and chemical reactions in the human body. Students discover what happens to the food we eat after it enters our bodies and how different symptoms are connected.
Focal scientific concepts in this unit are systems and system models; structure and function. Focal science practices include developing and using models, analyzing and interpreting data, and engaging in argument from evidence.
This unit has students reflecting on what they ate for breakfast, considering where their food comes from and which breakfast items might be from plants. Focusing on maple syrup, and drawing on the understanding from the preceding unit, students argue that they know what happens to the sugar in syrup when they consume it. It is absorbed into the circulatory system and transported to cells in their body to be used for fuel. Students explore what else is in food and discover that food from plants, like bananas, peanut butter, beans, avocado, and almonds, not only have sugars but proteins and fats as well. This discovery leads them to wonder how plants are getting these food molecules and where a plant’s food comes from. Students figure out that they can trace all food back to plants, including processed and synthetic food. They obtain and communicate information to explain how matter gets from living things that have died back into the system through processes done by decomposers. Students finally explain that the pieces of their food are constantly recycled between living and nonliving parts of a system.
Focal scientific concepts in this unit are systems and system models; energy and matter. Focal science practices include developing and using models, constructing explanations, engaging in argument from evidence and obtaining, evaluating and communicating information.
This unit engages students with a claim from the headlines about the future of orangutans being in peril and that their beloved chocolate may be the cause. This prompts students to develop initial models to explain how buying candy could impact orangutans. Students spend time understanding the complexity of the problem, which cannot be solved with simple solutions. They come to understand more about palm oil trees and their impact on the ecological dynamics of the system in which they grow. As they learn about predator/prey interactions, biodiversity, and the connections between resources and population growth of organisms, students will establish the need for a better design for oil palm farms. Students also investigate alternative approaches to growing food and work to design an oil palm farm that simultaneously supports orangutan populations and the income of farmers and community members.
Focal scientific concepts in this unit are cause and effect; systems and system models; stability and change. Focal science practices include developing and using models, asking questions and defining problems, planning and carrying out investigations, mathematics and computational thinking.