Grade 5


Ecosystems Restoration  Scope and Sequence

In this unit fifth-graders will take on the role of ecologists to investigate why a portion of the Costa Rican rainforest is failing and figure out what can be done.  In order to understand the problem, students will explore how living things get matter and energy to grow.  Throughout the unit they will engage in oral and written argumentation about the source of the problem in the failing ecosystem.  They will produce a Rain Forest Restoration Plan and use evidence-based reasoning to explain why the ecosystem is failing.

 Key activities include:

  • Investigating animals, plants, and decomposers through texts and digital simulations
  • Developing a model to describe the movement of matter among producers, consumers, decomposers and the air, water and soil in the environment.
  • Analyzing data and making connections on a molecular level as well as through models
  • Identifying what is causing the ecosystem to fail given their research


By the end of the unit, students will be able to:

  • Model how matter is cycled in an ecosystem by animals, plants, and decomposers.
  • Describe how plants use water and carbon dioxide from air and the sun's energy to make food molecules.
  • Explain interdependent relationships between living and nonliving parts of an ecosystem.
  • Demonstrate research skills to answer questions, gather information and provide evidence to support a claim in writing.



Weather and Water  Unit Overview 

The Weather and Water curriculum will help to build students' scientific skills through inquiry.  Students will observe weather each day and ask questions.  They will then complete observations, conduct experiments and do research in order to answer those questions.

Key activities include:  

  • Collecting data about rainfall, humidity, air pressure, temperature and more from a weather station.
  • Playing the “Complex weather cycle" game in which students act as a drop of water and journey through the water cycle.


By the end of the unit students will be able to:

  • Observe, describe, collect, record and analyze weather data using weather instruments.
  • Identify the properties of air and describe how each contributes to the development of weather.
  • Explain the components that make up weather.
  • Describe the complex water cycle.

Simple Machines and the Rube Goldberg Design Challenge  Scope and Sequence


Simple machines are the building blocks of more complex ones and energy is the ability to do work.  In this unit students learn that simple machines such as levers, pulleys and inclined planes can capture this energy and put it to work. In the final activity students will participate in the Rube Goldberg Design Challenge.  Using knowledge of simple machines, along with force, energy, and acceleration, students will work in teams to create a Rube Goldberg machine.


Who was Rube Goldberg?

“Rube Goldberg (1883-1970) was a Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist, sculptor and author…Best known for his ‘inventions’, Rube’s early years as an engineer informed his most acclaimed work. A Rube Goldberg contraption... takes a simple task and makes it extraordinarily complicated” (from


What is the Rube Goldberg Design Challenge?

The Design Challenge is an opportunity for fifth graders to use their knowledge of simple machines, acceleration, and resistance to work cooperatively and create a Rube Goldberg device.


Key activities include:

  • Creating a pulley system using K’NEX and math to figure out how much work it takes to pick up an object.
  • Examining a bicycle and isolating the simple machines.
  • Creating a Rube Goldberg device.


By the end of the unit students will be able to:

  • Label the 6 simple machines alone and within a complex machine.
  • Measure both the force and distance and calculate work done in joules.
  • Participate in the Rube Goldberg Design Challenge.
  • Use understanding of 6 simple machines, acceleration, applied and resistant forces, collaboration and the engineering design process.
  • Keep an engineering notebook of the design process.




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