STEAM Units from the ATLAS Grant 2019

  • The following exemplar units were developed by teams of educators during the Marin County Office of Education ATLAS STEAM grant. Content areas and standards addressed in these dynamic multidisciplinary units include English Language Arts, Mathematics, Next Generation Science Standards and the Environmental Principles and Concepts.

    For more information see the Table of Contents  that includes descriptions of each unit including the standards addressed and a link to each unit.

  • GRADES K-4

    Title:  Habitat and Environmental Stewardship_Kindergarten and Second Grade 

    Standards: Science NGSS, History/Social Science, CCSS Lang. Arts, Math, Art, Health

    Written by: Eve Swagerty and Erica Leinbach

    Link: Habitat and Environmental Stewardship

    Unit Summary: “Habitat and Environmental Stewardship,” a six week project, asks the essential question, “What choices can humans make about how to reduce their impacts on other living things and natural systems on land, water and air?” The unit focuses on environmental stewardship, Bay Area habitats, and citizens’ needs to take care of their surroundings. As part of this unit, students will learn about habitats, local animals, Native American legends, and human impact on the environment and will learn how to make observational drawings.


    Title: Native Plants in the Glenwood Marsh_Kindergarten

    Standards: Science NGSS, History/Social Science, CCSS Language Arts, CCSS Math, Art

    Link:  Native Plants in the Glenwood Marsh 

    Written by: Alyssa Jones

    Unit Summary:Native Plants in the Glenwood Marsh,” explores a local marsh to learn about species habitats, marsh ecosystems, and the impact of native and non-native plants on the ecosystems. In this unit, students participate through observations, discussions, counting, a buddy activity, and a docent-led tour of a local marsh. The essential question of this unit asks, “What native plants are observed or missing from the Glenwood marsh and how can humans positively impact the marsh environment?”


    Title: Environment and Human Systems_3rd Grade

    Standards: Science NGSS, Language Arts, Math, Art

    Link:  Environment and Human Systems

    Written by: DeMaure Herrera and Denise Lipiansky

    Description:  “Environment and Human Systems,” a four week project, asks the question “How do humans impact the environment around them?” In this unit, students explore how human-made changes to natural systems affect species in their habitats in negative ways. This project engages students in multiple ways, including drawing, acting, art projects, videos, and discussion. 


    Title:  Witnessing the Gold Rush_4th Grade

    Link:  Witnessing the Gold Rush

    Standards: Science NGSS, History/Social Science, CCSS Lang. Arts, Math, Health, Technology

    Written by: Amy Holst and Kristine Brand

    Unit Summary: “Witnessing the Gold Rush,” an eight week project, uses California’s history around gold mining to explore multiple environmental concepts and principles. In this unit, students will, among other things, identify methods used in gold mining and explore how byproducts of the gold rush influence the natural systems in surrounding areas. The essential question “What were the lasting effects of the Gold Rush on the environment and its inhabitants?” allows for activities like hands-on learning, historical reenactment, and design engineering. 

  • GRADES 5-8

    Title:  Mount Tam Ecosystems_5th Grade

    Standards: History Social Science Standards, NGSS, Environmental Principles and Concepts, CCSS ELA

    Link:  Mount Tam Ecosystems

    Written by: Natalie Butler and Rachel Quek

    Unit Summary:  “Mount Tam Ecosystems,” a two week unit, focuses on identifying human and natural systems within the Mount Tamalpais Watershed ecosystems and distinguishing problems that occur when the systems interact. As part of this unit, students will do research, design models, and write a narrative to answer the essential question, “What positive and negative impacts have natural systems and human systems had on Mount Tam’s ecosystems?”


    Title:  Energy and Climate_6th Grade

    Standards: Science NGSS, History/Social Science, Math

    Written by: Janna Morbitz

    Link: Energy and Climate

    Unit Description: “Energy and Climate,” a six week project, focuses on developing knowledge about climate change and learning about how humans can reduce greenhouse gasses to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis. In this unit, students will participate in a full Engineering Design Cycle to create a climate-friendly, energy-efficient classroom. The Green Ninja Curriculum will help to inform and guide the lessons in this unit.  


    Title:  Coyotes, Water, and You_Sixth and Seventh Grade

    Standards: Science NGSS, CCSS Language Arts, CCSS Math, Art

    Link:  Coyotes, Water, and You

    Unit Description:  “Coyotes, Water, and You,” a five week project, explores the relationship between safe drinking water and the health of local wildlife. This unit focuses on the connections between all living things through exploration of animal needs (food, water, shelter, and space), predators, and the pyramid of life. At the end of the project, students will design an informational brochure (or similar) to help coyotes and other wildlife. 

  • GRADES 9-12

    Title: Population Ecology_HS Biology

    Standards: Science NGSS

    Link:  Population Ecology

    Written by:  Karen Wilhoyte

    Unit Description:  “Population Ecology,” a seven week project, asks the essential question “How do changes to wetlands affect populations?” In this unit, students will learn about systems, ecosystems, factors affecting population growth, biodiversity, and the positive and negative ways humans influence ecosystem resources. At the end of the project, students will engineer a solution to reduce the impact of human social systems and to save/restore a wetland species.

    Title: Earth Processes_Grades 9 - 12

    Standards: Science NGSS, CCSS Math, Art

    Link:  Earth Processes

    Written by: PHUN/9 - 12

    Description:  In “Earth Processes,” a six week project, students will look into the effects, outcomes, and governmental responses to a major earthquake. This unit explores questions about the earth’s formation, fusion and energy, the movement of tectonic plates, human impact on the degree and frequency of earthquakes, and the construction of buildings in high impact areas. Students will consider budgetary constraints and design a building that can sustain the effects of earthquakes for their final project assessment. 


    Title: That’s in my Water?_ Grades 9 - 12

    Standards: Science NGSS

    Link:  That’s in my Water? 

    Written by: Candice Aguirre

    Description:  “That’s in my Water?”, a four week project, begins with the essential question “How can we ensure we have clean, safe and good tasting drinking water?” In this unit, students will investigate chemicals intentionally added to water to make it safe for consumers in Marin County. At the end of the project, students will share results with the local community through a public product. 


    Title: Materials and Sustainability_HS Chemistry

    Standards: Science NGSS, History/Social Science, CCSS Lang. Arts, CCSS Math, Art, Health

    Link:  Materials and Sustainability

    Written by Justin Louie

    Description:  “Materials and Sustainability,” a three week project, focuses on the relationship between natural resources and  the production of goods used by humans. In this unit, students will learn about different types of bonds and their properties and will consider the impact that using natural resources can make on natural systems and the planet. In studying the process of production and its environmental and societal impacts, students will participate through video viewing, close readings, discussions, role play, research, and storyboard creation.