NJ Model Science Unit: Waves and Information

Contributor
State of New Jersey
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Unit , Experiment/Lab Activity , Curriculum
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

Reviews

Description

Students plan and carry out investigations before developing and using models to describe patterns of waves in terms of amplitude and wavelength, and to demonstrate that waves can cause objects to move. Connections are made to real world examples of waves, including sound and light waves.  This is followed by student research of the ways patterns have been used to communicate over a distance, and engagement in an engineering challenge to build a device or design a process for communicating information over a distance.

Intended Audience

Educator
Educational Level
  • Grade 4
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

4-PS4-1 Develop a model of waves to describe patterns in terms of amplitude and wavelength and that waves can cause objects to move.

Clarification Statement: Examples of models could include diagrams, analogies, and physical models using wire to illustrate wavelength and amplitude of waves.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include interference effects, electromagnetic waves, non-periodic waves, or quantitative models of amplitude and wavelength.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
This unit describes what the investigative process should look like in the classroom and details outcomes that are aligned to this Performance Expectation. The introduction of anchoring phenomena to accompany the driving question is recommended. The inclusion of a float as part of the investigation is also suggested. Depending on their prior experiences, students may need support in planning the investigation, as well as how the data should be recorded, analyzed and interpreted. It suggests a discussion of real world examples such as sound and light waves using understandings based on prior units of study. However, that is not an expectation for learning prior to Grade 4. Additional lessons on light and sound waves, and how they compare to the physical waves they created in their investigations would need to be implemented to make this connection.

4-PS4-3 Generate and compare multiple solutions that use patterns to transfer information.

Clarification Statement: Examples of solutions could include drums sending coded information through sound waves, using a grid of 1’s and 0’s representing black and white to send information about a picture, and using Morse code to send text.

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
As materials and time appear to be the only possible constraints to this engineering challenge, multiple solutions are possible. Teachers are encouraged to have students discuss what kinds of solutions to this engineering challenge are preferred, or possibly add their own criteria before undertaking the challenge and comparing solutions.

3-5-ETS1-1 Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.

Clarification Statement: none

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this performance expectation, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
In this phase of the design process, students brainstorm and research ways patterns have been used to communicate over a distance, and identify the criteria and constraints of the design solution. Why we develop long distance communication systems needs to be defined in order to explicitly address this performance expectation.

3-5-ETS1-2 Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.

Clarification Statement: none

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
As part of the the engineering challenge, criteria and possible constraints on the design solutions will be determined as a class. Students will then compare multiple solutions to the problem, determining how well each design meets criteria, using data as evidence to support their thinking.

3-5-ETS1-3 Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.

Clarification Statement: none

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this performance expectation, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
It ensure that variables are controlled and failure points are considered, it is suggested that students be required to explicitly address them as they plan their investigations, and record them in their journals or notebooks.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this science and engineering practice, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
It is suggested that the teacher use the unit description of what the investigation should look like in the classroom to guide students as they collaboratively plan their investigation. The control of variables is identified as part of the engineering process, but needs to emphasized as students investigate the science of waves as well. The importance of replicable trials should be emphasized as students plan their science investigation as well as their engineering challenge. The students may also need guidance as to how the data will be recorded. Finally, a class discussion of their results should be included as part of the investigative process.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students will be developing a model to demonstrate their understanding of wave properties and as they build a communication device or design a process for communicating information. To enhance the practice of developing models, the teacher could show the phenomena of a ball as it floats on the ocean’s surface, and have them draw an initial model. Students could then revise their model upon the conclusion of their investigations, using the data from their experimentation to support their explanation of their model.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students will construct a model to explain their understanding of wave properties. It is recommended that the students explicitly use the data collected from the investigations to support the explanation of their model. They will then determine the criteria and constraints of their engineering challenge, create and test a design solution, then compare solutions to determine how well each solution meets the criteria, using the data collect as evidence to support their reasoning. Note that this Practice aligns perfectly with 3-5 ETS1-2: Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Students will investigate the properties of waves by disturbing the surface of water contained in a variety of pans and buckets, using a variety of large and small objects. It is suggested that one of the pans be setup to mimic the seashore so they can make observations of waves at it meets the “beach”. The similarities and differences in the wave patterns created need to identified within and across teams as students share their observations, with particular focus on how waves differing in amplitude and wavelength are created.

This resource was not designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
The focus of the engineering challenge is on creating a device to use patterns to transmit information. Patterns of 1s and 0s as identified in the Clarification Statement can be introduced as the foundation for digitized information, and the transmission of information without significant degradation (i.e., transmission over a predetermined distance under a range of likely conditions) identified as a key criteria for the design solution. The fact that digitized signals sent as wave pulses can be introduced to students as a means to connect the science investigations with the design challenge. However, the investigation of this concept is not appropriate for this grade level. The encoding and decoding of information in high-tech devices would need to be addressed in additional lessons.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Students will determine the criteria and constraints of the design solution as a class. Examples are provided however, to assist the teacher with facilitating this phase of the design process. At the conclusion of the challenge, students will compare solutions based on how well each design meets criteria, using data as evidence to support their thinking.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Students will begin the design process by brainstorming and conducting research to identify ways patterns have been used to communicate over a distance. The introduction of phenomena, such as how the Mars rover Curiosity communicates data back to Earth is suggested here to drive the investigation.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
In this design challenge, students will investigate multiple design solutions within identified constraints, then compare them to determine how well each solution meets criteria. Students learn best from each other and it is important that opportunities for the student teams to share and discuss their prototype designs with each other be provided.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
This crosscutting concept is what connects the science investigations to the engineering design challenge and needs to be made explicit as the students engage in the various investigations.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This unit integrates several of the Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas and Crosscutting Concepts' elements to engage students in three-dimensional learning, making sense of phenomena and solving a design challenge. The crosscutting concept of patterns bridges the investigation of wave properties and the engineering challenge. Understanding of how the science is applied to the engineering can be made more explicit by demonstrating that sound and light are often used in the transmission of information, which travels in waves. An introduction that digitized signals are sent as wave pulses is also suggested. Investigation of this concept however, is not appropriate for this grade level. Grade appropriate connections are clearly made to the Common Core State Standards for English/Language Arts and Mathematics. It should be noted that this unit is currently available only as a draft and it is unknown when the final draft will be made publicly available.

  • Instructional Supports: This resource engages students in authentic investigations that reflect the practice of science and engineering. It provides multiple opportunities for students to interpret, clarify, express and represent their ideas. Justification of their ideas in response to student and teacher feedback is not explicit but is easily implemented through teacher facilitation of the discussions. Guidance to support differentiation is very strong and includes instructions for restructuring the lesson, the structuring of lessons around questions that relate to the students’ interests and background, and providing multiple choices for how students can represent their learning.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: This unit provides multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate the performance of the practices that are connected to Disciplinary Core Ideas and Crosscutting Concepts. These opportunities will provide a wealth of formative assessment data. The model drawings and design solutions can be assessed formatively or summatively, depending on how the tasks are structured. Pre-, post- and self-assessment measures as well as rubrics are not provided, but the resource as it stands is in draft form. Thus, these assessment measures may be included in the final version of the unit plan.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: This resource does not include a technologically interactive component.