Middle School Classroom Programs

MIDDLE SCHOOL CLASSROOM PROGRAMS

The Asombro Institute can bring a bit of hands-on science and the desert to your classroom. All programs provide an opportunity for students to learn about science through hands-on activities. Each program is aligned with the New Mexico STEM Ready! science standards (including the Next Generation Science Standards) and Common Core mathematics and English Language Art standards, where appropriate. Please call the Asombro Institute office (575-524-3334) to schedule your classroom presentations.

 

  • Where: In your classroom
  • Cost*: $60 for first presentation; $30 for additional, same-day presentations (additional travel charges may apply for schools outside Las Cruces, NM – $25 + 45 cents per mile)
  • Maximum Group Size: 1 class per presentation (exceptions on an individual basis)
  • Length: Approximately one hour per presentation (some lessons are multi-day)

 

Asombro provides programming in all four science disciplines in the NGSS curriculum: life science; physical science; earth & space science; and engineering, technology, & applications of science. Please scroll down to see our specific program offerings. A brief description of the program and applicable science standards are listed for each lesson. Click the science standard to read more on the Next Generation Science Standards website.

*The regular cost of classroom programs is $100 per lesson. However, thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we are able to offer a reduced price of $60 for the first lesson and $30 for each additional, same-day program.

 

 

Energy Transfers around a Kangaroo Rat in the Desert

Students trace the transfer and transformation of energy as it flows through a small section of the desert food web centered on a kangaroo rat. They learn about energy as a crosscutting concept, applying “physical science” concepts of kinetic and potential energy to “life science” concepts like photosynthesis, metabolism, thermoregulation, and movement of organisms.

 

SCIENCE STANDARDS ADDRESSED

 

MS-PS3-5 Construct, use, and present arguments to support the claim that when the kinetic energy of an object changes, energy is transferred to or from the object.

 

Click here for a standards sheet with both science and common core standards.

 


Human Impacts: Water Use

Students will explore two models of water conservation, while collecting quantitative data on water that is conserved. Students will review the causes of water shortages in New Mexico and craft an argument about water shortages. Lastly, students will work in small groups to design solutions for water conservation in home design.

 

SCIENCE STANDARDS ADDRESSED

 

MS-ESS3-3 Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.

 

MS-ESS3-4 Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems.

 

Click here for a standards sheet with both science and common core standards.

 


Insulating You, Insulating Earth

To understand how increases in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere increase global surface temperatures, students will model the natural and enhanced greenhouse effect. Students conduct an experiment using their own body heat, thermometers, towels, and mylar blankets.

 

SCIENCE STANDARDS ADDRESSED

 

MS-ESS3-5 Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.

 

Click here for a standards sheet with both science and common core standards.

 


Natural Selection of Blanched Lizards at White Sands

Students are introduced to the phenomenon of camouflage in desert animals. They then move through activities highlighting major stages of evolution by natural selection in the context of blanched lizards at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. As students participate in activity stations, they learn that changes in genes lead to different proteins in organisms, that variation in traits may lead to differential survival and reproduction in a particular environment, and that over time, this leads to a change in the frequency of specific traits in a population. Students will apply what they learn about blanched lizards at White Sands to explain the process of natural selection in rock pocket mice at the Valley of Fires in Carrizozo, NM.

 

SCIENCE STANDARDS ADDRESSED

 

MS-LS3-1 Develop and use a model to describe why structural changes to genes (mutations) located on chromosomes may affect proteins and may result in harmful, beneficial, or neutral effects to the structure and function of the organism.

 

MS-LS4-4 Construct an explanation based on evidence that describes how genetic variations of traits in a population increase some individuals’ probability of surviving and reproducing in a specific environment.

 

MS-LS4-6Use mathematical representations to support explanations of how natural selection may lead to increases and decreases of specific traits in populations over time.

 

Click here for a standards sheet with both science and common core standards.

 


 

Creosote Bush Genetics: Do these genes make me look big?

Creosote bushes are one of the most common plants in North America’s Deserts. However, the shrubs are different sizes and shapes in different locations. Students will use pressed creosote bush specimens to compare shrub size in the Chihuahuan, Mojave, and Sonoran Deserts. Activities will guide students through investigations to determine if the size difference is caused by genetics, the environment or both.

 

SCIENCE STANDARDS ADDRESSED

 

MS-LS1-5 Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how environmental and genetic factors influence growth of organisms.

 

Click here for a standards sheet with both science and common core standards.

 


 

Magnets and Migration

Students will apply their knowledge of magnetic fields to learn about current research on animal navigation. They will first investigate how the magnetic field of a bar magnet exerts a force on a paperclip. They will then conduct investigations to explore how animals may use Earth’s magnetic field to navigate over long distances. Finally, students will evaluate the design of experiments scientists are using to test magnetoreception in butterflies.

 

SCIENCE STANDARDS ADDRESSED

 

 

 

Click here for a standards sheet with both science and common core standards.


Restoring Connections (Schoolyard Lesson)

Students examine photos to discover that parts of Chihuahuan Desert have changed from a grassland to a shrubland ecosystem. After participating in an interactive game, students will explain that drought and grazing by livestock are two of the causes of shrub encroachment. Students use models to show how shrub encroachment causes increased erosion which exposes the hardened caliche layer. They will use aerial photos to estimate percent shrub cover and determine that a shrubland habitat is unsuitable for a keystone species – the banner-tailed kangaroo rat. After learning about the effects of shrub encroachment, students construct an argument to explain how a part of the ecosystem is impacted by this change.

 

SCIENCE STANDARDS ADDRESSED

 

MS-LS2-4 Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.

 

Click here for a standards sheet with both science and common core standards.

This lesson may be followed by a field trip to the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park. Learn more here.

 

 


Get Out and Graze!

Students learn about heritage livestock as they play the roles of Angus and Raramuri Criollo cattle grazing on a rangeland under abundant and then limited forage conditions caused by climate change.

 

SCIENCE STANDARDS ADDRESSED

 

MS-LS2-1 Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem.

 

Through grant funding, this lesson is available as an Asombro-led program in your classroom. Materials are also freely available online and can be accessed here.