How Communities Use Science Ideas to Protect Resources

Communities use science ideas to protect resources. But how? In the United States, more than 16,000 wastewater treatment plants do this. Take a look at how you can teach NGSS 5-ESS3-1. Just focus on sewage treatment.

Mr. Grow Teaches NGSS 5-ESS3-1: How Communities Use Science Ideas to Protect Resources

Our favorite fifth grade teacher sat at the side table with his teaching partner. “Last month,” he said, “our kids explored water pollution with our eutrophication lab. But we still need to address another earth science standard: NGSS 5-ESS3-1.” He read it aloud:

Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect Earth’s resources and environment.

“Right,” said Mrs. Washington. “I did a little digging on this topic. First, I searched the Internet. Unfortunately, it was difficult to find specific instances. Furthermore, when I did find them, they were written in technical terms. You know, meant for adults in the science field.”

Mr. Grow sighed. “Bummer. I was hoping for a research paper. After all, the language in the standard indicates that intent. See where is says ‘obtain and combine information’?”

A slow smile crept over Mrs. Washington’s face. “Well, I did think of a solution.”

Mr. Grow sat up straighter. “Explain, please.”

“In most communities, people use science ideas for one specific purpose: wastewater treatment. I did a little more searching and found this set of earth science activities.”

She turned her laptop so Mr. Grow could look on.

What Is a Natural Resource?

“As you can see, the first lesson reviews renewable and nonrenewable natural resources. In my opinion, this is a great place to start. It activates kids’ background knowledge. Additionally, it acts as a springboard to their project on fossil fuels.”

Before beginning instruction of NGSS 5-ESS3-1, review renewable and nonrenewable resources with this worksheet. Then kids will be able to explore how communities use science ideas to protect resources.
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Why Must Communities Protect Water Resources?

“Next, they read about the hydrosphere. Fortunately, the text is differentiated for two levels of readers. After reading, kids graph amounts of water on Earth. First, they graph land versus water. Second, salt water compared to all water. Third, fresh to all. And finally, accessible fresh to all fresh water.”

“Cool, that gives them a great vision of how plentiful water is. Furthermore, they see that accessible fresh water is scarce.”

“Not only that. Additionally, it hits NGSS 5-ESS-2-2. In that standard, kids are asked to graph distribution of water on Earth.”

Mr. Grow smiled. This was getting better by the minute.

In order to understand the importance of water, kids read about the hydrosphere and graph amounts of fresh and salt water on Earth. Then, before tackling NGSS 5-ESS3-1, they can see that water is plentiful - but also scarce. This leads them into the study of how communities use science ideas to protect resources, namely through wastewater treatment plants.

How Do Communities Use Science Ideas to Protect Resources of Fresh Water?

Mrs. Washington scrolled to the next part. “Now,” she said, “our students will dig in. First, they read a general overview of the wastewater treatment process. Then they read about the primary and secondary stages. As they read, kids analyze and write about science ideas used to develop specific processes. Furthermore, we can extend the activity with more reading and analyzing. The final article examines treating organic waste so it can be used as fertilizer.”

To meet the intent of NGSS 5-ESS3-1, fifth grade students learn about processes used at wastewater treatment plants. This gives them an opportunity to identify ways communities use science ideas to protect our fresh water resources.

Meeting  and Extending the Intent of NGSS 5-ESS3-1

“Great,” said Mr. Grow. “But what about the intent of  NGSS 5-ESS3-1? It says that kids should “obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas.’ That integrates science and writing.”

“This unit covers that too,” Mrs. Washington responded. “All of this leads up to an informative writing activity.”

Reading Informational Text: Identifying Text Structures

She continued, “To prepare for writing, kids review text structures. Then they identify them in paragraphs of the hydrosphere passage. Luckily, this also hits CCSS RI5.5.”

Here's a way to combine reading and science. First, review informational text structures. Then ask fifth grade students to identify the structure used in each paragraph of the hydrosphere passage. This addresses CCSS RI.5.5.

Writing Informative Pieces on How Communities Use Science Ideas

She scrolled down more. When Mr. Grow saw the informative writing activity, he grinned. “Now that’s more like it.”

“Yep. Finally, kids think about what they’ve learned. After analyzing how wastewater treatment plants use science ideas to protect resources, they choose a text structure. Then they plan, write, and elaborate.”

Mr. Grow grinned. “Voila! A complete learning series for NGSS 5-ESS3-1!”

Enjoy Teaching

A thorough, well-scaffolded set of lesson plans will help you enjoy teaching. When instruction matches the intent of the standards, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Check out this set of materials for your classroom.

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