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8th Grade California Curriculum

In 8th grade, students explore more complex phenomena, systems, and cycles. As scientists and engineers, students analyze patterns and make predictions about future events as they investigate real-world phenomena and designed processes across nine month-long units that integrate life science, Earth and space sciences, physical science, and technology/engineering.
8th Grade STEM Curriculum California

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  • Unit 1
  • Unit 1: Matter and Movement

    In Unit 1 Matter and Movement, students are introduced to matter and energy as they explore how scientists and engineers design materials with specific properties to address a wide range of societal needs.

    • Students set up their laboratory notebooks and carry out an experiment to investigate how increasing the mass of a marble affects its average speed after a collision.
    • Students analyze the observable properties and thermal data produced by the combination of two substances to determine if a chemical reaction occurred.
    • Students use the scientific process to determine how increasing the amount of borax in a polymer bouncy ball affects its bounce height.

    Focus Standards: MS-PS2-1, MS-PS2-2, MS-PS3-1

    Supporting Standards: MS-PS1-1, MS-PS1-2, MS-PS1-3, MS-PS1-4, MS-PS1-5, MS-PS3-5

    California 8th Grade STEM Curriculum - Matter and Movement - MS-PS2-1, MS-PS2-2, MS-PS3-1
  • Unit 2
  • Unit 2: Earth and the Solar System

    In Unit 2 Earth and the Solar System, students use scientific studies that took place on the International Space Station with the astronaut Scott Kelly, data collected by the rover Curiosity that is exploring the planet Mars, and information about how the space station was built in space to explore gravity’s effects within the solar system.

    • Students develop and use models to describe how the Earth-sun-moon system causes the cyclic patterns of lunar phases and eclipses.
    • Students analyze and interpret various data on the scale properties of different planets in the solar system.
    • Students use a variety of materials to design a prototype shield technology for an orbiter to prevent damage from meteoroid collisions in space.

    Focus Standards: MS-ESS1-1, MS-ESS1-2, MS-ESS1-3, MS-PS2-1, MS-PS2-2, MS-PS2-4, MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2, MS-ETS1-3, MS-ETS1-4

    California 8th Grade STEM Curriculum - Earth and the Solar System - MS-ESS1-1, MS-ESS1-2, MS-ESS1-3, MS-PS2-1, MS-PS2-2, MS-PS2-4, MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2, MS-ETS1-3, MS-ETS1-4
  • Unit 3
  • Unit 3: Earth's Changing Climate

    In Unit 3 Earth’s Changing Climate, students explore how the sun’s uneven heating of the planet drives weather and climate and the relationship between human activities and global warming.

    • Students analyze why “tapping” to collect sap from maple trees occurs in the early spring by carrying out an experiment to investigate how the angle of the sun’s rays as they strike Earth affects Earth’s surface temperature in specific regions.
    • Students investigate the role of convection in transferring heat in fluids and then investigate how the motions of air masses result in changes in weather conditions in the central United States during tornado season.
    • Students use a model to investigate the greenhouse effect and then analyze data to evaluate the claim that human activities are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s surface temperatures.
    • Students design and build a greenhouse prototype to maximize the amount of thermal energy transferred to the structure from a heat source.

    Focus Standards: MS-ESS1-1, MS-ESS3-4, MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2, MS-ETS1-3, MS-ETS1-4

    Supporting Standards: MS-ESS2-4, M-ESS2-5, MS-ESS2-6, MS-PS3-3, MS-ESS3-5

    California 8th Grade STEM Curriculum - Earth's Changing Climate - MS-ESS1-1, MS-ESS3-4, MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2, MS-ETS1-3, MS-ETS1-4
  • Unit 4
  • Unit 4: From Molecules to Organisms

    In Unit 4 From Molecules to Organisms, students explore the life forms that live on Earth, analyzing the cellular structures that make up complex organisms and how different groups of cells work together to keep the organism functioning properly.

    • Students create wet mount slides and observe prepared slides with microscopes to compare and contrast the complexity of prokaryote and eukaryote cells.
    • Students design and carry out an experiment to test how the concentration of sucrose affects the rate that yeast cells break down sucrose and use it for energy.
    • Students carry out an experiment to analyze the effect of sucrose on the heart rate of daphnia.

    Focus Standards: MS-LS4-1, MS-LS4-2

    Supporting Standards: MS-LS1-1, MS-LS1-2, MS-LS1-3, MS-LS1-6, MS-LS1-7, MS-LS1-8

    California 8th Grade STEM Curriculum - From Molecules to Organisms - MS-LS4-1, MS-LS4-2
  • Unit 5
  • Unit 5: Inheriting Traits

    In Unit 5 Inheriting Traits, students explore how DNA holds the instructions for making proteins that living things need to survive and how DNA is passed on from parent to offspring.

    • Students use a basic model to investigate the biological process that allows the DNA in a cell to build specific proteins responsible for the traits of an organism.
    • Students develop and use models to compare asexual and sexual reproduction.
    • Students use a basic model to investigate how mutations to genes can result in changes to proteins, which can affect the structures and functions of an organism and thereby change traits.

    Focus Standards: MS-LS3-1, MS-LS4-4

    Supporting Standards: MS-LS1-5, MS-LS3-2

    California 8th Grade STEM Curriculum - Inheriting Traits - MS-LS3-1, MS-LS4-4
  • Unit 6
  • Unit 6: Human Genetics

    In Unit 6 Human Genetics, students explore how both genetic information and the environment influence how a population develops over time. They investigate different kinds of evidence for life’s shared ancestry and then experiment with how adaptations help some organisms survive.

    • Students analyze similarities in the anatomies of modern and fossil organisms, embryo development, and DNA patterns among various species to explore evolutionary relationships.
    • Students carry out an experiment to investigate how variations in traits in a population of organisms can increase some organisms’ probability of surviving and reproducing in a specific environment.
    • Students use a basic Punnett square model to investigate how the probability of traits being inherited and passed to offspring can be predicted, and then use the model to select for a specific trait over several generations.

    Focus Standards: MS-LS3-1, MS-LS4-1, MS-LS4-2, MS-LS4-3, MS-LS4-4, MS-LS4-5, MS-LS4-6, MS-ESS1-4

    Supporting Standards: MS-LS1-4, MS-LS1-5, MS-LS3-2

    California 8th Grade STEM Curriculum - Human Genetics - MS-LS3-1, MS-LS4-1, MS-LS4-2, MS-LS4-3, MS-LS4-4, MS-LS4-5, MS-LS4-6, MS-ESS1-4
  • Unit 7
  • Unit 7: Changing Environments

    In Unit 7 Changing Environments, students explore the dynamic nature of ecosystems and how disturbances affect them by investigating the food webs and invasive species in Lake Michigan.

    • Students explore why people work hard to keep invasive species out by developing a model to analyze how energy flows through a Lake Michigan food web when invasive species are present.
    • Students design and carry out an experiment to examine how an oil spill such as the 2010 spill in the Gulf of Mexico alters the cycling of matter and the flow of energy through an ecosystem by disrupting the ability of aquatic plants to photosynthesize.
    • Students design a solution that decreases shoreline erosion by mimicking natural oyster reefs.

    Focus Standards: MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2, MS-ETS1-3, MS-ETS1-4

    Supporting Standards: MS-LS1-6, MS-LS2-1, MS-LS2-2, MS-LS2-3, MS-LS2-4, MS-LS2-5

    California 8th Grade STEM Curriculum - Changing Environments - MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2, MS-ETS1-3, MS-ETS1-4
  • Unit 8
  • Unit 8: Transforming Energy

    In Unit 8 Transforming Energy, students explore the relationship between magnetism and electricity by investigating how animals navigate using Earth’s magnetic field.

    • Students use a model to explore the size of a magnetic field and then carry out an investigation to evaluate how the amount of potential energy stored in a system of repelling magnets can change depending on the position and configuration of the magnets.
    • Students build simple electric motors using permanent magnets and electromagnets and then test the factors that affect how fast the motor spins.
    • Students design and build a vertical-axis wind turbine that generates a specific amount of electrical energy in low and high wind speeds.

    Focus Standards: MS-PS2-2, MS-PS2-3, MS-PS2-5, MS-PS3-2, MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2, MS-ETS1-3, MS-ETS1-4

    Supporting Standard: MS-PS3-5

    California 8th Grade STEM Curriculum - Transforming Energy - MS-PS2-2, MS-PS2-3, MS-PS2-5, MS-PS3-2, MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2, MS-ETS1-3, MS-ETS1-4
  • Unit 9
  • Unit 9: Waves and Information Transfer

    In Unit 9 Waves and Information Transfer, students explore the properties of mechanical seismic waves to investigate the relationship between waves and energy and then evaluate how light waves can be used to communicate and transmit information.

    • Students use slinky springs to model longitudinal and transverse mechanical waves to investigate how the amplitude and frequency of seismic waves relate to how much energy the waves carry.
    • Students design and build prototype seismographs that detect and record high- and low-amplitude seismic surface waves.
    • Students model how light interacts with optical fibers by observing how a beam of light can be reflected inside a stream of water.
    • Students model a data communication system to compare how digital and analog signals encode and transmit information.

    Focus Standards: MS-PS4-1, MS-PS4-2, MS-PS4-3, MS-PS2-2, MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2, MS-ETS1-3, MS-ETS1-4

    California 8th Grade STEM Curriculum - Waves and Information Transfer - MS-PS4-1, MS-PS4-2, MS-PS4-3, MS-PS2-2, MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2, MS-ETS1-3, MS-ETS1-4

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