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CKSci Grade 6 Unit 2: Thermal Energy

CKSci Grade 6 Unit 2: Thermal Energy


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About This Lesson

In this unit, students investigate the phenomenon of thermal energy and how understanding about the flow of thermal energy can lead to the engineering of containers that retain heat well. The subtitle of this unit is How can containers keep stuff from warming up or cooling down? This is a phenomenon that students experience when they compare the heat retaining properties of varying containers. How do things heat up or cool down in an open system? What happens to a substance’s thermal energy in a closed system? Can thinking in terms of substance’s particle help explain the phenomenon of the changes in thermal energy in a system?   This unit allows students to observe weather and climate phenomenon in detail and then start to ask questions, formulate explanations, then set up and conduct activities and research. As students work with classmates to analyze their shared experiences, they can formulate new questions and develop new strategies for answering those questions. Students explore concepts that include the following:

  • What cup features seem most important for keeping a drink cold?
  • If matter cannot exit or enter a closed system, how does a liquid in the system change temperature?
  • How does the temperature of a liquid on one side of a cup wall affect the temperature of a liquid on the other side of the wall?
  • How does the motion of particles compare in a sample of matter at a given temperature?

As students move through their day-to-day activities, they will also read Core Knowledge literacy selections. These include factual articles, history of the sciences, art and literature, spotting bad science in media and advertisements, graphics comprehension, research-type articles, reliability of sources, and other areas of science literacy.

Number of Lessons:

  • Teacher Guide: 8 Lessons
  • Student Reader: 7 Collections

Instruction Time (Student Reader):

  • Lessons  are designed to be completed in one or more class periods.
  • A Pacing Guide found in Online Resources offers a suggested time to complete the entire unit if class is held each day.
  • The entire unit should take about 18 days to complete if class is held each day.
  • A complete list of Materials needed to complete the unit is provided in Online Resources.

Additional Search Terms:
open system • closed system • science literacy • thermal energy • heat • temperature • glacier • thermoregulation • insulation • nonfiction • informational text


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