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A Jury's Dilemma- Written Assessment

Unit Plan: Decomposer DynamicsLesson: 7 Time: 1 hour Setting: Classroom
3-5, 6-8Schoolyard Ecology
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Students analyze a trial involving a dispute about a composting business, then outline how a Special Investigator could gather evidence to help settle the case.


Students will be able to: Show that they can think broadly and accurately about factors that influence the biological process of decomposition.


For each student:

  • copy of "Challenge Sheet"
  • copy of "Scoring Sheet"

See Lesson Resources for further details.

Lesson Files

A Jury's Dilemma-Written Assessment

Benchmarks for Science Literacy

5E Flow of Matter and Energy, 7D Social Trade-offs, 7E Political and Economic Systems, 7F Social Conflict, 8D Communication, 9E Reasoning

NYS Standards

MST 4- Physical setting, living environment and nature of science, ELA 3- Language for critical analysis and evaluation
Next Generation Science Standards

Science and Engineering Practices

Asking questions and defining problems, Engaging in argument from evidence, Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

Cross Cutting Concepts

Patterns, Cause and effect

Disciplinary Core Ideas

LS2A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems, LS2B: Cycles of Matter and Energy Transfer in Ecosystems
New York State Science Learning Standards

Performance Expectations

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

Hogan, Kathleen. Eco-Inquiry: A Guide to Ecological Learning Experiences for the Upper Elementary/Middle Grades. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, PO Box 1840, 4050 Westmark Drive, Dubuque, IA 52004-1840., 1994.