This 7th grade unit on matter cycling and photosynthesis begins with students reflecting on what they ate for breakfast. Questions about where their food comes from lead them to consider which breakfast items might be from plants. Then students explore (and taste) a common breakfast food, maple syrup, and see that according to the label, it is 100% from a tree.
Students apply what they learned in the previous unit to argue that they know what happens to sugar in syrup or other foods when they consume it. Students explore what else is in food and discover that foods from plants not only have sugars but proteins and fats as well. This discovery leads them to wonder how plants are getting these food molecules, why a plant needs food, and where a plant's food comes from in the first place. Students figure out that they can trace all food back to plants, including processed and synthetic food. They explain that the pieces of their food are constantly recycled between living and nonliving parts of a system.
Matter Cycling & Photosynthesis 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.