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STC-Middle School™, STC3 Edition: How Can We Use Technology to Monitor Aquatic Ecosystems? Module Kit

(in stock)


Grades 6–8. Unit Driving Question—How do phytoplankton affect aquatic ecosystems, and how can we use technology to monitor them? Module Highlights—Using their research of harmful algal blooms (HABs) in a specific region, students make proposals to minimize human impact or mitigate harmful effects. Students describe the evidence and scientific reasoning that supports the claim that human activity contributes to HABs.

This module kit comes with a teacher edition, reusable soft cover student guides (item #512713), and teacher and student access to Carolinascienceonline.com.

Next Generation Science Standards*
Performance Expectations

  • MS-PS4-1. Use mathematical representations to describe a simple model for waves that includes how the amplitude of a wave is related to the energy in a wave.
  • MS-PS4-2. Develop and use a model to describe that waves are reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through various materials.
  • MS-PS4-3. Integrate qualitative scientific and technical information to support the claim that digitized signals are a more reliable way to encode and transmit information than analog signals.
  • MS-ESS3-4. Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • PS3.D: Energy in chemical processes and everyday life
  • PS4.A: Wave properties
  • PS4.B: Electromagnetic radiation
  • PS4.C: Information Technologies and Instrumentation
  • LS1.C: Organization for matter and energy flow in organisms
  • ESS3.C: Human impacts on Earth systems

Science and Engineering Practices

  • Developing and using models
  • Analyzing and interpreting data
  • Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

Crosscutting Concepts

  • Patterns
  • Cause and effect
  • Systems and system models
  • Structure and function
  • Stability and change
  • Connections to engineering, technology, and applications of science: Influence of science, engineering, and technology on society and the natural world
  • Connections to nature of science: Science addresses questions about the natural and material world

CONNECTIONS English Language Arts

  • RST.6-8.1 Key ideas and details
  • RST.6-8.2 Key ideas and details
  • RST.6-8.3 Key ideas and details
  • RST.6-8.4 Craft and structure
  • RST.6-8.7 Integration of knowledge and ideas
  • RST.6-8.9 Integration of knowledge and ideas
  • RST.6-8.10 Range of reading and level of text complexity
  • SL.8.1 Comprehension and collaboration
  • SL.8.4 Presentation of knowledge and ideas
  • SL.8.5 Presentation of knowledge and ideas
  • WHST.6-8.1 Text types and purposes
  • WHST.6-8.8 Research to build and present knowledge
  • WHST.6-8.9 Research to build and present knowledge


  • MP.2 Reason abstractly and quantitatively
  • MP.4 Model with mathematics
  • 8.F.A.3 Define, evaluate, and compare functions

Investigation Summaries
Investigation 1: Observing Plankton and Waves

Students observe phenomena related to bioluminescent waves and plankton blooms using a digital resource. Group and class discussions use prompts to reveal prior knowledge and misconceptions about plankton and waves.
Investigation 2: Pacific Ocean Ecosystem
Students use a digital resource to obtain information about plankton and their relationship to animals living in the Pacific Ocean. Students use evidence from the digital resource to develop models describing matter flow from phytoplankton to other organisms.
Investigation 3: Harmful Algal Blooms
Students read a vignette about an unusually large Pseudo-nitzschia bloom that affected the Pacific Coast. Students use multiple resources (visual, print, and digital) to obtain information about a phenomenon that adversely affects humans and other organisms: HABs. Students use their understanding of phytoplankton to anticipate factors that contribute to HABs and consider which might be related to human activity.
Investigation 4: Light Interactions
Students develop and refine models describing how different substances affect light absorption, transmission, and reflection. Students also use their models to describe how light interacts with both water and a water sample containing green-colored algae.
Investigation 5: Pigment Interactions
Students use a computer simulation to investigate light absorption and transmission through a green pigment found in phytoplankton. Students graph the collected data and use it to analyze and interpret how the green pigment affects light absorption. Students use evidence from this investigation to support or refute models developed during the previous investigation.
Investigation 6: Monitoring Lake Erie
Students use multiple sources (visual, print, and digital) to obtain information about cyanobacteria blooms occurring in Lake Erie. Students apply their understanding of photosynthetic pigments to design a solution for monitoring water in the lake. Students also use a digital simulation to observe a floating monitoring system and use mathematical models to describe how water waves affect this technology.
Investigation 7: Monitoring Aquatic Ecosystems
Students use a digital resource to obtain information about technologies scientists use to monitor aquatic ecosystems. Students discuss data each technology collects, the benefits of using that technology, and monitoring problems that could be solved if scientists use a different technology.
Investigation 8: Monitoring Phytoplankton in Aquaculture
Students read a vignette describing a Euglena bloom that killed fish at an aquaculture farm in North Carolina. Next, students assume the role of aquaculture farm owners and evaluate analog and digital monitoring methods for water in their ponds. Students use evidence and scientific reasoning to make a claim about which method (analog or digital) is more reliable.
Investigation 9: Minimizing and Mitigating Harmful Algal Blooms
Students obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about HABs affecting different geographic regions. Students use the information they obtain to propose region-specific solutions to minimize human impact or to mitigate harmful effects of HABs. Students also describe evidence and scientific reasoning that support the claim that human activity contributes to HAB occurrence.

*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.


What’s Included:
  • 1 Teacher’s Edition
  • 16 Student Guides
  • 1 Unit Technology Pack (includes digital access to teacher edition and digital student access to student guide)
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.