Lesson 6 - Explaining Other Examples of Animals Growing, Moving, and Functioning

Students practice explaining digestion, biosynthesis, and cellular respiration in other animals and then take the unit posttest.

Guiding Question

How do other animals grow, move, and function?

Activities in this Lesson

  • Activity 6.1: Explaining Other Examples of Animals Growing, Moving, and Functioning (50 min)
  • Activity 6.2: Comparing Animals and Flames (50 min)
  • Activity 6.3: Functions of All Animals (50 min)
  • Activity 6.4: Animals Unit Posttest (20 min)

Unit Map

Unit Map Lesson 6

Target Performances

Lesson 6 – Explaining Other Examples of Animals Growing, Moving, and Functioning (students as explainers)

Activity 6.1: Explaining Other Examples of Animals Growing, Moving, and Functioning

Students develop integrated accounts of how other animals (salmon, mealworms, dolphins) grow, move and function through the processes of digestion, cellular respiration, and biosynthesis.

Activity 6.2 Comparing Animals and Flames

Students compare how matter moves and changes and how energy changes in ethanol burning vs. a child growing, moving and functioning (connecting macroscopic observations with atomic-molecular models and using the principles of conservation of matter and energy).

Activity 6.3: Functions of All Animals

Students develop integrated accounts of how all animals grow, move and function through the processes of digestion, cellular respiration, and biosynthesis.

Activity 6.4: Animals Unit Posttest

Students show their end-of unit proficiencies for the overall unit goal: Questioning, investigating, and explaining how animals move and change matter and energy as they live, move, and grow.

NGSS Performance Expectations

Middle School

  • MS. Matter and its Interactions. MS-PS1-1. Develop models to describe the atomic composition of simple molecules and extended structures.

High School

  • HS. From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes. HS-LS1-2. Develop and use a model to illustrate the hierarchical organization of interacting systems that provide specific functions within multicellular organisms.
  • HS. From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes. HS-LS1-6. Construct and revise an explanation based on evidence for how carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen from sugar molecules may combine with other elements to form amino acids and/or other large carbon-based molecules.
  • HS. From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes. HS-LS1-7. Use a model to illustrate that cellular respiration is a chemical process whereby the bonds of food molecules and oxygen molecules are broken and the bonds in new compounds are formed resulting in a net transfer of energy.

Three-dimensional Learning Progression

In this final lesson of the unit, students have completed the inquiry and application sequences for animal growth and movement. The activities in the previous lessons were designed to walk students through a cognitive apprenticeship model of Establishing the Problem, Modeling, Coaching, and Fading. The results of the unit posttest will help you determine if your students are ready to move on to the final stage: Fading. After the Fading stage, students will be expected to carry forward concepts from this unit into future units. If the results from your posttest imply that a majority of your students are still struggling with certain concepts, it might be valuable to return to some of the main concepts they are struggling with before moving on to the next Carbon TIME unit.

Key Ideas and Practices for Each Activity

Activity 6.1 is the first part of the Fading phase of the Application Activity Sequence, which provides students with important less-scaffolded practice with digestion, biosynthesis, and cellular respiration. Students should take more responsibility for their work than in lessons 4 and 5, which included the Modeling and Coaching phases. Students answer the Three Questions for different animals growing and moving using the Explanations Tools, coordinating accounts at the macroscopic and atomic-molecular scales. Macroscopic scale accounts include these components:

  • the structure of the system (the animal in this case) and the movement of materials through the system;
  • the location where chemical change takes place;
  • the materials involved in the chemical change: the reactants going in and the products coming out.

Atomic-molecular scale accounts include three different ways of representing chemical change:

  • molecular models, with twist ties to represent units of energy, that students use to physically rearrange the atoms of the reactants into the atoms of the products;
  • a chemical equation that shows how atoms are rearranged into new molecules in a compact way (but does not account for energy);
  • the Explanations Tool, which provides a way for students to account for changes in matter and energy in writing but answering the Three Questions.

Activity 6.2 is the second part of the Fading phase of the Application Activity Sequence. In this activity, compare animals to flames. In 6.3, students write generalized explanations, which focus on the cellular scale, of how all animals grow, move, and function

Activity 6.4 includes summative assessment for the unit. You can track students’ progress by having them take the unit posttest (identical to the unit pretest) and comparing the results of the two assessments.

Content Boundaries and Extensions

Talk and Writing

This lesson of the unit represents the fading portion of the Explanations Phase. This means that students are expected to develop explanations for carbon-transforming processes they studied in this unit in new and novel contexts. The table below shows specific talk and writing goals for the Explanations phase of the unit.

Talk and Writing Goals for the Explanations Phase

Teacher Talk Strategies That Support This Goal

Curriculum Components That Support This Goal

Examine student ideas and correct them when there are problems. It’s ok to give the answers away during this phase! Help students practice using precise language to describe matter and energy.

Let’s think about what you just said: air molecules. What are air molecules?

Are you talking about matter or energy?

Remember: atoms can’t be created. So that matter must have come from somewhere. Where did it come from?

Let’s look at the molecule poster again… is carbon an atom or a molecule?

Molecule Poster

Three Questions Poster


Focus on making sure that explanations include multiple scales.

The investigation gave us evidence for what was happening to matter and energy at a macroscopic sale. But what is happening at an atomic-molecular scale?

What is happening to molecules and atoms?

How does energy interact with atoms and molecules during chemical change?

Why doesn’t the macroscopic investigation tell us the whole story?

Let’s revisit our scale poster… what is happening to matter at the molecular scale?

Molecular Models

Molecular Modeling Worksheets

Explanations Tool

PPT Animation of chemical change

Powers of Ten Poster

Encourage students to recall the investigation.

When did this chemical change happen during our investigation?

How do we know that? What is our evidence?

What were the macroscopic indicators that this chemical change took place?

Evidence-Based Arguments Tool

Investigation Video

Elicit a range of student explanations. Press for details. Encourage students to examine, compare, and contrast their explanations with others’.

Who can add to that explanation?

What do you mean by _____? Say more.

So I think you said _____. Is that right?

Who has a different explanation?

How are those explanations similar/different?

Who can rephrase ________’s explanation?

Explanations Tool