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Grade 6 - Science

Science in 6th Grade


Westerly students in 6th grade focus on Earth Science. Each of the three branches of scienceā —physical, life and Earth—will be integrated under the Earth Science umbrella. It is our goal that each student will gain a deep understanding of the content standards of their grade level, develop a curiosity about the natural world through hands-on, inquiry-based instruction, and apply scientific learning to their own experiences and the world around us. 

Essential Question 1: Earth-Sun-Moon System: How do the sun and the moon affect Earth?
Lesson 1: Movement in Space
Students will:
  • Identify objects and constellations visible without a telescope.
  • Develop models to explain the apparent motions of stars and planets throughout the year.
  • Explain the motion of Earth, other planets, and the sun through space.
Possible lessons:
  • Watching the Skies- Model Earth’s movement around the sun to demonstrate the change of position of stars
Lesson 2: Earth’s Movement in Space
Students will:
  • Explain what causes the cycle of seasons on Earth.
  • Describe how the moon affects the amount of daylight.
  • Made models to describe factors that keep the moon and Earth in orbit.
Possible lessons:
  • Patterns of Day and Night
  • Earth rotation and revolution models
  • Sunlight and Temperature (Tilt of Earth causes seasons and temperature change.)
  • Lighten Up! (Weight, mass, gravity)
  • The Great Gravity Escape (gravity and orbit)
Lesson 3: Phases and Eclipses
Students will:
  • Explain why the moon appears to change shape.
  • Describe what causes solar and lunar eclipses.
  • Predict the position of the Earth, sun, and moon during a given type of eclipse.
  • Describe how the sun and moon affect tides.
Possible lessons:
  • STEM-Design and Build Tidal Turbine
  • Why do we only see one side of the moon?
  • Phases of moon model
  • Eclipse model
  • Solar and Lunar eclipse trifold
  • Graph and examine tidal cycles
Essential Question 2: Solar System and the Universe: What kind of data and evidence help us to understand the universe?
Lesson 1: Solar System Objects
Students will:
  • Interpret data to compare and contrast solar system objects based on their characteristics.
  • Describe the role of gravity in the motions of the planets and other objects in the solar system.
  • Describe the role of gravity in the sun’s function.
  • Describe the relationships between solar system objects.
Lesson 2: Learning About the Universe

Students will:
  • Identify and describe how scientists use electromagnetic radiation to learn about the universe.
  • Describe the role of technology in outer space, collecting, analyzing, and communicating data.
Lesson 3: Stars and Galaxies
Students will:
  • Analyze the distances between objects in the universe and the methods used to measure those distances.
  • Explain the hierarchical relationships between the various bodies in the universe.

Essential Question 3: Earth's Surface Systems: What processes change Earth’s surface?

Lesson 1: Weathering and Soil
Students will:
  • Describe and give examples of ways in which Earth’s surface is torn down by mechanical and chemical weathering
  • Understand how Earth’s surface is built up by the formation of soil
  • Describe and give examples of ways in which Earth’s surface is torn down by the process of erosion
Lesson 2: Erosion and Deposition
Students will:
  • Describe and give examples of processes that cause erosion and deposition
  • Describe how mass movement of rock and soil change the surface
  • Describe how wind contributes to erosion and deposition
Lesson 3: Water Erosion
Students will:
  • Understand how Earth’s surface is built up and torn down by water erosion.
  • Give examples of landforms that form from water erosion and deposition.
  • Explain how groundwater affects and changes Earth’s surface.
Lesson 4: Glacial and Wave Erosion
Students will:
  • Describe and give examples of ways in which Earth’s surface is changed by glaciers and wave erosion

Essential Question 4: Plate Tectonics: How do geological processes change Earth’s surface?

Lesson 1: Evidence of Plate Motions
Students will:
  • Identify and describe evidence that:
  • Continents were once fused together in a supercontinent called Pangaea
  • Land masses drifted apart over time into the continents known today
  • Continental coastlines appear to fit together and mountain ranges on different continents line up
  • Similar plant and animal fossils are found on continents that are separated by oceans
  • Analyze cause and effect relationships to describe how mid ocean ridges and deep-sea trenches provide evidence for plate movement
Lesson 2: Plate Tectonics and Earth’s Surface
Students will:
  • Analyze and interpret data to describe evidence that Earth’s plates are in slow constant motion due to forces within the mantle and convection current
  • Use models to demonstrate that some features on Earth’s surface coincide with plate boundaries
Lesson 3: Earthquakes and Tsunami Hazards
Students will:
  • Use and develop models to explain how plate movement and stress produce new landforms
  • Analyze and interpret data:
    • as evidence that energy released from interacting plates result in earthquakes
    • to compare the magnitude of earthquakes
    • to relate the energy of an earthquake to the formation of a tsunami
Lesson 4: Volcanoes and Earth’s Surface
Students will:
  • Identify patterns to explain how plate tectonics is connected to volcanic eruptions
Essential Question 5: Introduction to Earth's Systems: How do matter and energy cycle through Earth’s systems?
Lesson 1: Matter and Energy in Earth’s Systems
Students will:
  • Analyze and interpret data to describe evidence that Earth has four major subsystems, or spheres, that cycle matter and energy and shape Earth’s surface (atmosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere).
  • Understand that the Earth system involves flows of matter and energy through different components.
  • Understand that Earth’s system has two main sources of energy: heat from the sun and heat from Earth’s interior.
  • Demonstrate how a system returns information about itself, and that information results in change.
Lesson 2: Surface Features in the Geosphere
Students will:
  • Demonstrate how there are a variety of landforms on Earth because Earth’s surface is different from place to place.
  • Describe evidence that the topography of the land is constantly being created and destroyed by competing constructive and destructive forces.
  • Understand that the geosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere interact with each other to affect Earth.
  • Demonstrate how computers create topographic and other maps from aerial photography and satellite imagery to model Earth’s landforms.
Lesson 3: The Hydrosphere
Students will:
  • Analyze and interpret data to describe evidence that:
    • the majority of Earth’s freshwater is frozen into glaciers and thickened ice masses.
    • the remaining fresh water is found underground, in lakes and rivers, and the atmosphere.
    • oceans, rivers, lakes, and ponds are all part of the surface water in the hydrosphere.
  • Develop and use models to demonstrate how the process of evaporation, condensation, transpiration, and precipitation continually cycle water from Earth’s surface to the atmosphere and back again.
Essential Question 6: Weather in the Atmosphere: What determines the weather on Earth?
Lesson 1: The Atmosphere Around You
Students will:
  • Understand the layers of Earth’s atmosphere
Lesson 2: Water in the Atmosphere
Students will:
  • Analyze and interpret data to describe evidence that:
  • water vapor enters the atmosphere through a number of processes
  • water is continually evaporating and condensing in the atmosphere and this process forms clouds
  • precipitation is a vital part of the water cycle
  • Develop and use models to demonstrate water is always moving between the surface of Earth and the atmosphere
  • Understand that temperature determines the type of precipitation for an area
Lesson 3: Air Masses
Students will:
  • Describe evidence that air masses are moved by the prevailing winds and jet streams
  • Use models to demonstrate how air masses of different temperatures and humidity collide, resulting in a front
  • Understand that storms and changeable weather often develop along fronts
  • Understand that the type of front that develops depends on the characteristics of the air masses and the direction in which they move
Lesson 4: Predicting Weather Changes
Students will:
  • Develop and use models to demonstrate how meteorologists use tools to predict weather and determine the effect of global patterns on local weather
Lesson 5: Severe Weather and Floods

Essential Question 7: Climate: How have natural processes and human activities changed Earth’s climate?

Lesson 1: Climate Factors
Lesson 2: Climate Change
Lesson 3: Effects of a Changing Climate

Essential Question 8: Human Impact on the Environment: How does human activity impact Earth’s systems?

Lesson 1: Population Growth and Resource Consumption
Lesson 2: Air Pollution
Lesson 3: Impacts on Land
Lesson 4: Water Pollution