Fifth Grade NGSS unit on San Francisco Bay

California’s 5th grade content lends itself well to an in-depth study of the San Francisco Estuary, allowing teachers to bring a place-based focus to their studies. An example instructional sequence is:

  1. Field trip or Habitat in a  Bucket exploration of the San Francisco Estuary
  2. Modeling Matter Near Marshes (CA-NGSS 5-LS2-1)
  3. Interactions between the biosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere, and atmosphere using a lesson like this one: followed by an assessment activity incorporating what they learned into the models created in #2.
  4. Research projects about how people depended on the San Francisco Bay in 1600-1700s, 1850s, and present day (draft lesson available by emailing Sarah at (California History and Social Studies 5.1.1)
  5. Exploration of how science ideas can help address the pollution and changes in the bay that resulted in people no longer being able to use it as a food source. (5-ESS3-1).

The sequence can be adapted to other complex ecosystems (oceans, lakes, forests, prairies) by substituting a few place-specific elements.

intertidal marsh