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Systems and Scale is the first of the six Carbon TIME units. If you are new to teaching Carbon TIME, read the Carbon TIME FAQ: Which Units Should I Teach? .

The goal of the Systems and Scale unit is to introduce students to organic matter and chemical energy (in the context of combustion) using the tools for reasoning and environmental literacy practices that students will engage with in other units. Students develop required capacity to distinguish organic matter from inorganic matter, and to understand how differences in the chemical make-up of materials influences how materials and energy are transformed and moved between systems.

The Systems and Scale Unit supports students in using core disciplinary ideas, science practices, and cross-cutting concepts to develop scientific explanations of how matter and energy are transformed during combustion of different organic materials.

Follow these steps to get ready to teach the Systems and Scale Unit

Lead Editor for 2019 Version

Kirsten D. Edwards, Department of Teacher Education, Michigan State University

Principal Authors

Hannah K. Miller, Education Department, Johnson State University

Jenny Dauer, School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Christa Haverly, Department of Teacher Education, Michigan State University

Kirsten D. Edwards, Department of Teacher Edwards, Michigan State University

Christie Morrison Thomas, Department of Teacher Education, Michigan State University

Charles W. “Andy” Anderson, Department of Teacher Education, Michigan State University

Contributing Authors

Elizabeth Xeng de los Santos, Beth Covitt, Jennifer Doherty, Allison Freed, Wendy Johnson, Deborah Jordan, Craig Kohn, Lindsey Mohan, Joyce Parker, Elizabeth Tompkins, Nick Verbanic


Craig Douglas, Kendra Mojica

This research is supported in part by grants from the National Science Foundation: A Learning Progression-based System for Promoting Understanding of Carbon-transforming Processes (DRL 1020187) and Sustaining Responsive and Rigorous Teaching Based on Carbon TIME (NSF 1440988). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or the united States Department of Energy.

Contact the MSU Environmental Literacy Program for more information: EnvLit@msu.edu.