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North Carolina State Standards - Science Competency Goals, Grade 8

The Middle Grades chapter of North Carolina's Science Standard Course of Study describes Competency Goals, the first two of which apply to all middle-school grades, involving scientific inquiry and technological design, and are described in DITC's Shared Competency Goals page. "Designing technological solutions and pondering benefits and risks should be an integral part of the middle-school science experience." (p. 56)

In addition to Competency Goals 1-2, Goal 4 has a strong link to a design-related activity developed at Harvard. The Challenges In Physical Science curriculum offers one of the few design challenges related to chemistry. Baking Soda asks students to find a replacement for yeast in making bread rise. They are given two ingredients -- vinegar and baking soda -- and asked to find the ratio that will help bread rise highest with the least amount of residue. Although this design activity has a single correct solution (ideal ratio of vinegar to baking soda), students can nevertheless learn about design while discovering some basic chemistry lessons.

Competency Goal 4: Chemistry

4.01 Understand that both naturally occurring and synthetic substances are chemicals.
4.04 Describe the suitability of materials for use in technological design.
4.10 Describe risks and benefits of chemicals including medicine, food preservatives, crop yield and sanitation.
The scenario used for Introducing Baking Soda makes the distinction between naturally and synthetically derived chemicals. At the end of the activity, a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of using vinegar and baking soda as a substitute for yeast, and proposals for other options for making bread rise, could also address this goal.
4.05 Identify substances based on characteristic physical properties.
In the full Baking Soda unit, students attempt to identify the materials given to them based on physical characteristics. The
4.06 Describe and measure quantities to chemical/physical changes within a system.
Conducting Fair-Test Experiments is important for scientists and designers. The careful measurement of carbon-dioxide gas production through a variety of means is a centerpiece of the data collection for the baking soda activity in Finding the Optimal Mix for making bread without a leftover residue that would leave users with an unexpected aftertaste.
4.07 Identify evidence supporting the law of conservation of matter.
Collecting evidence that matter is not lost during the chemical reaction is an early learning objective of this activity, which gets reinforced when student Model the Chemical Reaction as a wrap-up activity to the unit.

Competency Goal 5: Evolution

5.02 Correlate evolutionary theories and processes (biological, geological, technological).
Getting students to notice how their design thinking evolves over time can be done using Design Diaries. The evolution of a technology can be the subject of a Product History that students research and then write.

Competency Goal 6: Cell Theory

6.02 Analyze structures, functions and processes within animal cells for -- capture and release of energy; feedback information; and disposal of wastes.
Making links between biology's description of nature's "technology" with technology that has been created by people and analyzed as Systems with feedback or descriptions of cells that follows a Form/Function line of analysis would help students reach this goal.

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