Teachers and families across the country are facing a new reality of providing opportunities for students to do science through distance and home learning. The Daily Do is one of the ways NSTA is supporting teachers and families with this endeavor. Each weekday, NSTA will share a sensemaking task teachers and families can use to engage their students in authentic, relevant science learning. We encourage families to make time for family science learning (science is a social process!) and are dedicated to helping students and their families find balance between learning science and the day-to-day responsibilities they have to stay healthy and safe.
Interested in learning about other ways NSTA is supporting teachers and families? Visit the NSTA homepage.
Sensemaking is actively trying to figure out how the world works (science) or how to design solutions to problems (engineering). Students do science and engineering through the science and engineering practices. Engaging in these practices necessitates that students be part of a learning community to be able to share ideas, evaluate competing ideas, give and receive critique, and reach consensus. Whether this community of learners is made up of classmates or family members, students and adults build and refine science and engineering knowledge together.
In today's Daily Do, Where does digestion occur?, students engage in science and engineering practices and use patterns as a thinking tool to make sense of the phenomenon of digestion. Students will apply physical science ideas about chemical reactions and physical changes to develop life science ideas about digestion (the beginning of the science idea that the body is a system of multiple interacting subsystems). This task has been modified from its design to be used by middle school students, families, and teachers in distance learning. While students could complete this task independently, we encourage students to work virtually with peers or in the home with family members.
Before beginning the task, you may want to access the accompanying Where does digestion occur? Google slide presentation.
Where does digestion occur? is a stand-alone task. However, it can be taught as part of an instructional sequence in which students coherently build the science ideas that the body is a system of multiple interacting subsystems made up of organs specialized for particular body functions. In this third and final lesson in the playlist, students build on the science ideas introduced in the second lesson and answer the question they raised in the first lesson, "Why does some food disappear?"
In the Why does the cracker taste sweet? Daily Do, students figure out that digestion begins in the mouth. Use the following prompt to ensure students have ownership of this understanding, and show slide 2:
Listen for students to say the following:
At this point, we have not defined digestion. Show slide 3, and ask students this question:
Listen for students to respond as follows:
Work with students to define digestion as a chemical reaction that breaks down food. Have students record the definition on their Student Handouts. Give students a few minutes to answer question 1—Why do large food molecules, like certain carbohydrates, seem to disappear in the digestive system?—on their Student Handouts.
You may use this question as a formative assessment. Look for students to identify the following:
To transition to the next portion of the lesson—why we need to continue to investigate what happens to food in our bodies—use the following prompts:
Allow students to share their ideas. Accept all answers.
Remind students of what we have figured out about carbohydrates by saying, "Remember that we figured out that certain complex carbohydrates, like fiber, remained the same in the body, and other types of complex carbohydrates decreased in the mouth, while glucose increased. I have some graphs showing how other food molecules change during digestion from when before they enter a person's body through multiple organs in the digestive system." Show slide 4 to demonstrate to students how to analyze the data found in the Data Sheet.
Have students work in groups to analyze the data found on the Data Sheet, and show the accompanying slides (slides 5–10). Tell students to record their data on question 2 in their Student Handouts.
Ask students to share what they noticed in their data. Students will likely notice the following:
A sample completed chart appears below.
At this point, students may begin to identify patterns among certain types of food molecules, such as amino acids increase as proteins decrease. It is not critical to address these noticings until after the next step.
Remind students of the relationship among structures of carbohydrates that we figured out in the Daily Do Why does some food disappear? by saying, "Remember, we looked at the structure of carbohydrates and noticed that glucose molecules were smaller building blocks to larger molecules like other complex carbohydrates and fiber. I found similar data for other food molecules."
Show slide 11, and give students time to examine the different molecular structures of food molecules found on their Student Handouts and answer question 3, What relationships among the different food molecules do you notice?
Allow students to share a relationship that they identify. Students should share the following:
Use the following prompt to help students make connections between the molecule images and their data tables (question 2).
Look for students to identify the following:
Lead a discussion to help students make sense of the data and images they have examined today using the following prompts:
Look for students to identify the following:
Tell students to add these noticings to their data tables (question 2) in their Student Handouts. A sample image appears below.
Ask students to develop claim, evidence, reasoning statements about the functions of each organ in the digestion system. Have them record their statements in question 4 of their Student Handouts.
Invite students to share their statements. Students should provide feedback on one another's claims by asking clarifying questions, comparing ideas, contrasting ideas, and giving critiques.
Students may identify claims such as these:
Use this statement as a formative assessment opportunity for the lesson. Students should identify pieces of evidence from the data to support their claims.
NSTA has created a Where does digestion occur? collection of resources to support teachers and families using this task. If you're an NSTA member, you can add this collection to your library by clicking Add to My Library, located near the top of the page (at right in the blue box).
This Daily Do lesson is inspired by and uses materials from the OpenSciEd science unit 7.3 Metabolic Reactions: How do things inside our bodies work together to make us feel the way we do?
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