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  • Middle School

    Matter and Energy in Organisms and Ecosystems

Students who demonstrate understanding can:

Performance Expectations

  1. Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for the role of photosynthesis in the cycling of matter and flow of energy into and out of organisms. MS-LS1-6

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  2. Develop a model to describe how food is rearranged through chemical reactions forming new molecules that support growth and/or release energy as this matter moves through an organism. MS-LS1-7

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  3. Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem. MS-LS2-1

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  4. Develop a model to describe the cycling of matter and flow of energy among living and nonliving parts of an ecosystem. MS-LS2-3

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  5. Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations. MS-LS2-4

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary

A Peformance Expectation (PE) is what a student should be able to do to show mastery of a concept. Some PEs include a Clarification Statement and/or an Assessment Boundary. These can be found by clicking the PE for "More Info." By hovering over a PE, its corresponding pieces from the Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Crosscutting Concepts will be highlighted.

Science and Engineering Practices

Developing and Using Models

Modeling in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to developing, using, and revising models to describe, test, and predict more abstract phenomena and design systems.

Analyzing and Interpreting Data

Analyzing data in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to extending quantitative analysis to investigations, distinguishing between correlation and causation, and basic statistical techniques of data and error analysis.

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

Constructing explanations and designing solutions in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to include constructing explanations and designing solutions supported by multiple sources of evidence consistent with scientific ideas, principles, and theories.

Engaging in Argument from Evidence

Engaging in argument from evidence in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to constructing a convincing argument that supports or refutes claims for either explanations or solutions about the natural and designed world(s).

Disciplinary Core Ideas

By clicking on a specific Science and Engineering Practice, Disciplinary Core Idea, or Crosscutting Concept, you can find out more information on it. By hovering over one you can find its corresponding elements in the PEs.

Planning Curriculum

Common Core State Standards Connections


  • RI.8.8 - Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is sound and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; recognize when irrelevant evidence is introduced. (MS-LS2-4)
  • RST.6-8.1 - Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts. (MS-LS1-6), (MS-LS2-1), (MS-LS2-4)
  • RST.6-8.2 - Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; provide an accurate summary of the text distinct from prior knowledge or opinions. (MS-LS1-6)
  • RST.6-8.7 - Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table). (MS-LS2-1)
  • SL.8.5 - Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest. (MS-LS1-7), (MS-LS2-3)
  • WHST.6-8.1 - Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts. (MS-LS2-4)
  • WHST.6-8.2 - Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/ experiments, or technical processes. (MS-LS1-6)
  • WHST.6-8.9 - Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis reflection, and research. (MS-LS1-6)


  • 6.EE.C.9 - Use variables to represent two quantities in a real-world problem that change in relationship to one another; write an equation to express one quantity, thought of as the dependent variable, in terms of the other quantity, thought of as the independent variable. Analyze the relationship between the dependent and independent variables using graphs and tables, and relate these to the equation. (MS-LS1-6), (MS-LS2-3)

Model Course Mapping

First Time Visitors

Resources & Lesson Plans

  • More resources added each week!
    A team of teacher curators is working to find, review, and vet online resources that support the standards. Check back often, as NSTA continues to add more targeted resources.
  • This resource provides students with a current problem in nature- deterioration of coral reef systems-  and a sample of real world data from a scientist who is developing potential solutions to the problem. While considering the phenomenon of ho ...

  •   This is one of 30 lessons from the NSTA Press book Scientific Argumentation in Biology.  The lesson engages students in an argumentation cycle in which they evaluate three alternative claims regarding where most of the matter that make ...

  • The ability to explain the processes by which plants capture, store and use energy for growth and development is fundamental to understanding bioenergy. In this set of lessons, students investigate how plants harness and use different sources of ener ...

  •    The Plants unit (approximately 16 hours of instructional time), part of the Carbon TIME curriculum, builds on student learning about organic and inorganic materials in the Systems and Scale unit as well as the processes learned in t ...

  •    The Ecosystems unit is one of six unit in the Carbon TIME curriculum, which focus on carbon-transforming processes from the molecular scale to the global scale.  Ecosystems are larger systems where carbon-transforming processes ...

  • The WISEngineering hydroponics project aims to help students develop their understanding of photosynthesis and cellular respiration. WISEngineering is a free online, engineering-design learning environment that scaffolds engineering design by guiding ...

  • This resource is an interactive model showing the role of soil in the carbon cycle.   Using arrows to represent the cycling of the carbon through the soil under a variety of conditions, it gives a visual depiction of the process.  Stud ...

  •   After graphing and analyzing authentic data about temperature and coral bleaching occurrences, students can use the data to construct an argument describing how the water temperature affects the mortality of the coral polyps and the associa ...

  •   This Formative Assessment Probe from The “Uncovering Student Ideas” series is a great way to engage the students to consider how plants get energy and what would be considered “food” for a plant.  Used at the st ...

  • This data analysis activity includes all supporting materials including color photos of leaf sets that can be analyzed by students.  The leaf sets show the results (including controls) of what happens to ivy leaves under a variety of conditions, ...

  • This is one of 25 assessment probes from the book,” Uncovering Student Ideas in Life Science, Volume 1: 25 New Formative Assessment Probes”, by Page Keeley and co-authors. All assessment probes in this collection are aligned to a particul ...

  • This resource provides a variety of  online materials, including a teacher guide, student worksheets, and videos.  In this lesson sequence, students analyze historic and present-day food webs and graph historic and present-day Chesapeake Ba ...

  • In this two-part lesson, students develop food webs and investigate human impacts on marine ecosystems. In Part I, students explore the ecological role of organisms in an ocean habitat and use information provided on Food Web Cards to develop food ch ...

  • This activity in the published book, Argument-Driven Inquiry in Life Science: Lab Investigations for Grades 6-8, is a 4-5 day lesson sequence that requires students to analyze data about the various species found in an ecosystem.  The resource g ...

  • The Middle School unit entitled Climate Change and Michigan Forests consists of 10 lessons on climate change and the local environment in Michigan based on forest ecology research conducted at the University of Michigan. The lessons can be adapted to ...

  • This ecosystem interactive will allow the user to determine the producers and consumers (primary and secondary) in a simulated ecosystem. The user can then see the outcome of including species with particular diets, including the result of how food ...

  • The lesson includes a 7 minute video to engage students in the concern that scientists have about how release of invasive Lionfish have created a shift in the oceanic ecosystems of the Caribbean and the Florida Coast. The lesson includes ideas for th ...

  • Animation that teaches how plant-based foods get their starch and how humans use the starches to make energy. Site also has limited follow up questions and other information on the vocabulary used. This is a great resource for showing the dynamics o ...

  • A resource specifically aimed to improve the content knowledge of an educator who plans to teach about the flow of matter and energy in ecosystems. Gives thorough explanation through text, graphics, and animations of all relevant ideas and how all of ...

  • This is a 4-5 day set of activities that uses a systems thinking approach to teach students about the various components of ecosystems as well as the different roles that organisms have within the ecosystem.

  • Students design and conduct simple experiments using elodea (aquatic plant sold in pet stores) and Bromthymol blue to determine whether plants consume or release carbon dioxide in the process of photosynthesis. Students will record their data which w ...

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Planning Curriculum gives connections to other areas of study for easier curriculum creation.