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Building Blocks of Science® 3D: Matter and Energy in Ecosystems (©2019) 3-Use Unit Kit with Literacy Set



Grade 5. In 6 lessons spanning 26 class sessions, students explore concepts related to ecosystems: why living things need energy from the sun, nitrogen cycling, interdependent relationships, energy transfer, human impacts on ecosystems, and more. Building Blocks of Science® 3D lessons are structured in 30-minute class sessions, making it easy to fit science into your day. The Matter and Energy in Ecosystems 3-Use Unit Kit with Literacy Set includes a teacher's guide (item #515342), 24 on-grade student readers (item #515303), 6 below-grade student readers (item #515303BGR), a license for the teacher and students to access online digital resources, and enough supplies and apparatus to teach the unit 3 times to a class of up to 30 students.

Along with hands-on learning, this Building Blocks of Science® 3D unit also provides digital resources to enhance the classroom experience. These components offer an additional method of delivering content, particularly for classrooms with consistent access to computers or tablets. Digital components include digital teacher's guide, simulations, digital literacy reader, interactive whiteboard activities, interactive student investigation sheets, and assessment. All digital resources for Building Blocks of Science® 3D are accessible at CarolinaScienceOnline.com.

Unit Summary
Ecosystems on Earth contain diverse forms of life and have unique needs to sustain these life-forms. An ecosystem is composed habitats, each made up of biotic and abiotic factors. Students should have an understanding that living things require the same basic resources: food, water, shelter, and air. However, they may not be aware of the interactions that occur when biotic factors compete to obtain these resources. Biotic factors depend on abiotic factors, such as the Sun, water, and air, and on other biotic factors, including plants and animals, to grow, reproduce, and survive. Through a series of 6 lessons in Matter and Energy in Ecosystems, students examine the movement of matter and cycling of energy within an ecosystem. They make connections to competition, interdependence, and Earth's spheres using models such as food webs, food pyramids, and ecocolumns. Students continuously build upon the idea that energy is constantly cycled on Earth.

Next Generation Science Standards*
The Building Blocks of Science® 3D unit Matter and Energy in Ecosystems (©2019) integrates process skills as defined by the Next Generation Science Standards.

Performance Expectations

  • 5-LS1-1: Support an argument that plants get the materials they need for growth chiefly from air and water.
  • 5-LS2-1: Develop a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment.
  • 5-PS3-1: Use models to describe that energy in animals' food (used for body repair, growth, motion, and to maintain body warmth) was once energy from the sun.
  • 5-ESS2-1: Develop a model using an example to describe the ways the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact.
  • 5-ESS3-1: Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the earth's resources and environment.
  • 3-5-ETS1-3: Generate and compare multiple solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of a problem.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • LS1.C: Organization for Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms
  • LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems
  • LS2.B: Cycles of Matter and Energy Transfer in Ecosystems
  • PS3.D: Energy in Chemical Processes and Everyday Life
  • ESS2.A: Earth Materials and Systems
  • ESS3.C: Human Impacts on Earth Systems
  • ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions

Science and Engineering Practices

  • Developing and Using Models
  • Analyzing and Interpreting Data
  • Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
  • Engaging in Argument from Evidence
  • Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

Crosscutting Concepts

  • Patterns
  • Cause and Effect
  • Energy and Matter
  • Systems and System Models

Common Core State Standards
Language Arts

  • RI.5.1: Key Ideas and Details
  • RI.5.2: Key Ideas and Details
  • RI.5.3: Key Ideas and Details
  • RI.5.4: Craft and Structure
  • RI.5.5: Craft and Structure
  • RI.5.6: Craft and Structure
  • RI.5.7: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
  • RL.5.8: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
  • RI.5.9: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
  • L.5.1: Conventions of Standard English
  • L.5.4: Vocabulary Acquisition and Use
  • L.5.6: Vocabulary Acquisition and Use
  • SL.5.1: Comprehension and Collaboration
  • SL.5.2: Comprehension and Collaboration
  • SL.5.3: Comprehension and Collaboration
  • SL.5.4: Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas
  • SL.5.5: Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas
  • W.5.3: Text Types and Purpose
  • W.5.4: Production and Distribution of Writing
  • W.5.7: Research to Build and Present Knowledge
  • W.5.8: Research to Build and Present Knowledge
  • W.5.9: Research to Build and Present Knowledge
  • W.5.10: Range of Writing


  • 5.OA.A.1: Write and interpret numerical expressions.
  • 5.OA.A.2: Write and interpret numerical expressions.
  • 5.MDA.1: Convert like measurement units within a given measurement system.
  • 5.NF.A.1: Use equivalent fractions as a strategy to add and subtract fractions.
  • 5.NF.A.2: Use equivalent fractions as a strategy to add and subtract fractions.
  • 5.NF.B.3: Apply and extend previous understandings of multiplication and division.
  • 5.NF.B.6: Apply and extend previous understandings of multiplication and division.
  • 5.NF.B.7: Apply and extend previous understandings of multiplication and division.

Lesson Summaries
Lesson 1

Lesson 1 begins with a pre-unit assessment of students' previous knowledge. Students define "ecosystem" and then consider the biotic and abiotic factors within their local ecosystem. Students discuss the interactions between biotic and abiotic factors and consider the traits that biotic factors have in common. Plants become the focus of the lesson, and students develop drawings to illustrate the life cycle of plants. Students consider the flow of energy in a plant and relate photosynthesis to plants' needs. To investigate what plants need to grow successfully, students plan an experiment using controls and variables. In the next lesson, will students shift their focus to animals. They will consider the interdependence of plants and animals, and they will examine and develop examples of food chains. Owl pellets are dissected to support students' learning about energy transfer between the organisms of an ecosystem.
Lesson 2
In the previous lesson, students examined the biotic and abiotic factors in an ecosystem. Students focused on plants and, using radish seeds as a model, identified what plants need to make food through photosynthesis so they can live and grow. In this lesson, students consider the interdependence of plants and animals in different habitats. Food chains are used to illustrate the movement of energy in an ecosystem. Students dissect owl pellets and use their findings to develop an energy pyramid that explains the flow of energy in the owl's ecosystem. In the next lesson, students will dive more deeply into the concept of energy cycling as they explore food webs. They will construct food webs and consider the effect of competition on the survival, growth, and reproduction of living things.
Lesson 3
In the previous lessons, students examined plants and animals and their interdependence within an ecosystem. Using food chains and food pyramids, students examined how the Sun's energy is transferred among organisms. In this lesson, students support this idea by examining food webs. Competition among organisms is discussed, and students make predictions about the effect of removing a biotic factor from an ecosystem. Students are introduced to decomposers and their central role in the cycling of energy through an ecosystem. Habitats are compared, and students draw conclusions about interdependence and the need for resources. In the next lesson, students will further examine the common needs of biotic factors by constructing a simple ecocolumn. Students use this model to explore the cycling of energy through the atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere.
Lesson 4
In the previous lessons, students examined the interactions of biotic and abiotic factors within ecosystems. Using food chains, food pyramids, and food webs as models, students have developed an understanding of how energy cycles in an ecosystem. This lesson introduces students to the four spheres of Earth. Using the water cycle as an example, students consider how the abiotic factors in an ecosystem need to be recycled in order to continuously support the biotic factors. Students build an ecocolumn using redworms and radish seeds. They will monitor their models over several class sessions. The class will use the ecocolumns again when they discuss human impacts on ecosystems in Lesson 5.
Lesson 5
Throughout the previous lessons, students developed their knowledge about the interdependence of the biotic and abiotic factors in an ecosystem. Students expanded this concept to Earth as a whole by making connections between the water cycle and the four spheres of Earth. By this point, students should understand that biotic factors depend on each other for survival, growth, and reproduction. This lesson asks students to consider how their own activities impact the ecosystem. By referencing food webs and readings, students identify the negative ways in which humans affect biotic factors. They apply their understanding of human impact to explore how their decisions impact the water cycle, which is central to the survival of all ecosystems. Students manipulate their ecocolumns to draw conclusions about how water pollution affects biotic factors. The concepts investigated in this lesson will provide support for Lesson 6, in which groups of students will be provided with scenarios for which they must develop a solution that reduces the effects of human impact. Each group will create a poster and present their problem and its solution to the class.
Lesson 6
The previous lessons have built students' knowledge of ecosystems and how energy is cycled throughout them. Lesson 5 introduced human impact and the effects of human activities on energy cycles. In this final lesson, student groups are provided with scenarios for which they must develop a solution to reduce human impact. Groups create a poster and deliver a presentation to share their solutions with the class. Each student evaluates the presentations and draws conclusions about how they can change their own behaviors to reduce any negative impact on the world around them.

*Next Generation Science Standards® is a registered trademark of WestEd. Neither WestEd nor the lead states and partners that developed the Next Generation Science Standards were involved in the production of this product, and do not endorse it.


Shipping Information or Purchase Restrictions
  • HI residents must contact the HI Department of Agriculture before ordering the living organisms.
What’s Included:
  • Matter and Energy in Ecosystems Live Coupon (for 75-100 redworms) (voucher item)
  • 1 Teacher's Guide
  • 1 Unit Technology Pack (subscription to CarolinaScienceOnline.com to access digital teacher's guide, digital instructional resources, and digital literacy readers)
  • 24 Matter and Energy in Ecosystems On-Grade Student Reader
  • Matter and Energy in Ecosystems Below-Grade Student Reader
  • 20 Bag, Resealable, Plastic, 12 x 15"
  • 24 Binder Clip, 1"
  • 4 Bottle, Plant Mister
  • 300 Card, 3 x 5"
  • 1 Clay, Red, 8-lb Bucket
  • 48 Container, Plastic, 16 oz
  • 60 Container, Plastic, 240 mL (8 oz), 3/4" Hole in Bottom, with Lid
  • 50 Cotton Wick, 4 x 3/8"
  • 75 Cup, Plastic, Squat, 9 oz
  • 1 Fertilizer, Liquid, 8 oz
  • 16 Forceps
  • 200 Glove, Disposable, Polyethylene, Small
  • 3 Gravel, Aquarium, 5 lb
  • 16 Lens, Hand
  • 1 Magic Worm Bedding, 4-1/2 lb
  • 45 Owl Pellets, Assorted Sizes
  • 1 Salt, 1-lb Box
  • 3 Sand, Marine, 5-lb Bag
  • 6 Seed, Radish, var. 'Scarlet Globe,' 1 oz
  • 2 Soil, Potting, 17-L (16-qt) Bag
  • 4 Sprayer, Plant Mister
  • 8 String, Super Twine, 200-ft Roll
  • 1 Tank, Plastic, 1 gal
Return Policy:

If for any reason you are not satisfied with this item, it is eligible for a return, exchange, refund, or credit up to 180 days from date of purchase. Restrictions may apply. Returns & Exchanges Policy.