In this collection of lessons high school students study ecological relationships in the Sonoran Desert, examine species adaptations, and then apply what they have learned in a design challenge.

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This unit consists of 4 lessons and 5 related activities providing 17 days of instruction. It is hosted on TeachEngineering, where all  materials can be downloaded for free.

Unit Overview from the developers:

This four-lesson “legacy cycle” unit for science and technology classes is structured with a contextually-based Grand Challenge followed by a sequence of instruction in which students first offer initial predictions (Generate Ideas) and then gather information from multiple sources (Multiple Perspectives). This is followed by Research and Revise as students integrate and extend their knowledge through a variety of learning activities. The cycle concludes with formative (Test Your Mettle) and summative (Go Public) assessments that lead students towards answering the Challenge question. Research and ideas behind this way of learning may be found in How People Learn, (Bransford, Brown & Cocking, National Academy Press, 2000).

The “legacy cycle” is similar to the “engineering design process” in that they both involve identifying an existing societal need, combining science and math to develop solutions, and using the research conclusions to design a clear, conceived solution to the original challenge. Though the engineering design process and the legacy cycle depend on correct and accurate solutions, each focuses particularly on how the solution is devised and presented.

Contributors: Wendy H. Holmgren; Megan Johnston; Amber Spolarich

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