This 6th grade unit on thermal energy engages students in a design challenge to create a cup that keeps drinks cold longer. They identify the features that make some cups better at keeping drinks cold, and they construct their own models to explain how those features prevent the transfer of thermal energy.
In this unit, students build an understanding of energy transfer within and between materials based on a particle model, and they work on the practices of modeling, conducting investigations, constructing explanations, arguing from evidence, and designing solutions.
Thermal Energy is aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards and is now freely available for download. This unit is part of the OpenSciEd middle school science program, currently being developed and rolled out in phases through winter 2022. BSCS Science Learning leads a consortium of organizations and science education experts in the development of this three-year program for grades 6-8.