A Sustainability Focused 6th Grade Science Curriculum


Have you been looking to move beyond the state standards and teach sustainability education? Join me with the work I am doing to integrate the Mass State Science/Technology/Engineering and Common Core Standards with Sustainability and Permaculture principles and ethics.

Below is my first unit of the year, thoughts/feedback?

This curriculum models the curriculum and practical application schedule seen at vocational schools that rotates between academic and shop weeks. 


 C-Content week

L-Lab week

P-Project week

Unit 1: Intro to Earth Science and Energy Resources: August-September

Stage 1: Identify Desired Results:Students will understand essential concepts about heat transfer in the Earth system, and apply understanding to sustainability and permaculture principles.

MA Standards:

  • ES2: Describe the layers of the earth, including the lithosphere, the hot convecting mantle, and the dense metallic core.
  • ES4: Explain the relationship among the energy provided by the sun, the global patterns of atmospheric movement, and the temperature differences among water, land, and atmosphere.
  • ES10: Compare and contrast properties and conditions of objects in the solar system (i.e., sun, planets, and moons) to those on Earth (i.e., gravitational force, distance from the sun, speed, movement, temperature, and atmospheric conditions).

Established Goals:

  • Students will use an understanding the Earth’s natural resources to analyze their resource use (carbon footprint) and set a goal to reduce resource increase resource mindfulness.
  • Students will understand and be able to apply the basic concepts and principles of sustainability (i.e.: meeting present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs) and permaculture (earth care, people care, resource share).
What essential questions will be considered?

  • How does heat transfer throughout the Earth system?
  • What energy sources do humans use?
  • How do renewable and non-renewable energy sources differ?
  • Where is pollution created?
  • What steps can be done to conserve resources and steward the environment?
What understandings are desired?Students will understand that:

  • An atom is the basic unit of matter, and is organized on the periodic table of the elements
  • The majority of current energy sources is non-renewable
  • Humans have an essential connection to and interdependence with the natural world
  • Scientists use quantitative, qualitative, experimental and non-experimental methods of scientific inquiry to understand the Earth
  • As in all scientific disciplines, knowledge in Earth science is subject to revision
  • Earth can be conceived as an interacting set of processes and structures composed of the atmosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere
  • Radiation, conduction, and convection transfer energy through Earth’s systems
Students will know:

  • Key terms
  • Types of renewable and non-renewable power sources
  • Variables influencing local, national, international pollution
  • General health problems caused by pollution
  • Triple bottom line of sustainability (people, planet, profit)
  • Permaculture principles (earth care, people care, resource share)
Students will be able to:

  • Calculate density using basic scientific instruments (triple beam balance, volume cylinder, ruler)
  • Identify resource conserving actions
  • Construct a simple solar collector/array
  • Read and interpret an electric bill (understand metric units listed)
  • Envision a world that is sustainable, along with the primary changes that would need to be made by individuals, local communities, and countries in order to achieve this
Stage 2: Assessments

  1. Student interest survey
  2. Daily formative writing assignments, primarily daily logbook
  3. 2 quizzes
  4. 1 lab
  5. 1 project
  6. 4-week vocabulary grade


Wk 1C Name game, issue books, nature walk, class expectations and student learning goal setting, Organize binders Create Student Homework Cards
Wk 2C Textbook – Ecology: Earth’s Natural Resources1-1: What are fossil fuels?

1-2: Energy from the sun

1-3: Wind and Water

Section reviews for homework

Brain pop video most days

Introduction to technical writing

Begin daily farmers almanac updates

Wk3L Making plastic, Solar heating, Carbon Footprint AnalysisFriday: Quiz 1
WK4C Intro to: Periodic Table of the Elements.Textbook – Ecology: Earth’s Natural Resources

1-4: Nuclear Energy

1-5: Alternative Energy Sources

Wk5P Solar oven/Solar collector, Chain reaction (p.29)Friday: Quiz 2
Vocabulary 1.fossil fuel2.hydrocarbon


4.photovoltaic cell

5.hydroelectric power


7.nuclear fission

8.nuclear fusion

9.geothermal energy

10.tidal energy