M/J STEM Environmental Science   (#2002200)

Version for Academic Year:

Course Standards

General Course Information and Notes

General Notes

This course is an integrated Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) course for middle school students. M/J STEM Environmental Science includes an integration of standards from science, mathematics, and english language arts (ELA) through the application to STEM problem solving using environmental sciences knowledge and science and engineering practices.  Environmental sciences through applications such as ecosystem management, human-environmental impact, ecology and agriculture, land and resource management, and civil and environmental engineering, are emphasized in this course. Laboratory investigations that include the use of scientific inquiry, research, measurement, problem solving, laboratory apparatus and technologies, experimental procedures, and safety procedures are an integral part of this course. The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) recommends that at the middle school level, all students should have multiple opportunities every week to explore science laboratory investigations (labs). School laboratory investigations are defined by the National Research Council (NRC) as an experience in the laboratory, classroom, or the field that provides students with opportunities to interact directly with natural phenomena or with data collected by others using tools, materials, data collection techniques, and models (NRC, 2006, p. 3). Laboratory investigations in the middle school classroom should help all students develop a growing understanding of the complexity and ambiguity of empirical work, as well as the skills to calibrate and troubleshoot equipment used to make observations. Learners should understand measurement error; and have the skills to aggregate, interpret, and present the resulting data (NRC 2006, p. 77; NSTA, 2007).

Special Notes:
Instructional Practices

Teaching from a range of complex text is optimized when teachers in all subject areas implement the following strategies on a routine basis:

  1. Ensuring wide reading from complex text that varies in length.
  2. Making close reading and rereading of texts central to lessons.
  3. Emphasizing text-specific complex questions, and cognitively complex tasks, reinforce focus on the text and cultivate independence.
  4. Emphasizing students supporting answers based upon evidence from the text.
  5. Providing extensive research and writing opportunities (claims and evidence).

Science and Engineering Practices (NRC Framework for K-12 Science Education, 2010)

  • Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering).
  • Developing and using models.
  • Planning and carrying out investigations.
  • Analyzing and interpreting data.
  • Using mathematics, information and computer technology, and computational thinking.
  • Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering).
  • Engaging in argument from evidence.
  • Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information.

ISTE Standards (http://www.iste.org/docs/pdfs/20-14_ISTE_Standards-S_PDF.pdf) should be incorporated in many contexts throughout the course.

Course Standards

Use grade appropriate Nature of Science and mathematics content benchmarks (i.e. if this course is offered to seventh grade students, then the SC.7.N benchmarks should be integrated into the course content, and SC.6.N and SC.8.N benchmarks should be omitted from the seventh grade course).

Florida’s Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking (B.E.S.T.) Standards
This course includes Florida’s B.E.S.T. ELA Expectations (EE) and Mathematical Thinking and Reasoning Standards (MTRs) for students. Florida educators should intentionally embed these standards within the content and their instruction as applicable. For guidance on the implementation of the EEs and MTRs, please visit https://www.cpalms.org/Standards/BEST_Standards.aspx and select the appropriate B.E.S.T. Standards package.

English Language Development ELD Standards Special Notes Section:

Teachers are required to provide listening, speaking, reading and writing instruction that allows English language learners (ELL) to communicate information, ideas and concepts for academic success in the content area of Science.  For the given level of English language proficiency and with visual, graphic, or interactive support, students will interact with grade level words, expressions, sentences and discourse to process or produce language necessary for academic success The ELD standard should specify a relevant content area concept or topic of study chosen by curriculum developers and teachers which maximizes an ELL’s need for communication and social skills. To access an ELL supporting document which delineates performance definitions and descriptors, please click on the following link: http://www.cpalms.org/uploads/docs/standards/eld/SC.pdf.

General Information

Course Number: 2002200
Course Path:
Abbreviated Title: M/J STEM ENV SCI
Course Length: Year (Y)
Course Attributes:
  • Class Size Core Required
Course Type: Core Academic Course
Course Status: State Board Approved
Grade Level(s): 6,7,8

Student Resources

Vetted resources students can use to learn the concepts and skills in this course.

Original Student Tutorials

Different Scientists:

Learn how different scientists all over the world use vastly different skills to work toward the common goal of understanding and fighting an emerging disease in this interactive tutorial

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions: How Does Science Fit In?:

You'll explore how science does and does not influence decision-making about climate change, sea turtles, and human health, in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

It All Makes Cents! The Two Rs in Science Research: Repetition and Replication :

Learn the importance of replication and repetition in science as you investigate the composition of a penny with this interactive tutorial. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Science Innovation: Using Tools in New Ways to Make Discoveries:

Learn how innovation is important in moving scientific thinking forward with this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

CER: Writing a Great Paragraph:

Learn how to write a great "CER" paragraph that includes a claim, evidence, and reasoning with this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Connections Between Science and Society, Economy, and Politics:

Explore the interconnected world of science, society, economy, and politics and how they all influence one another with this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Scientific Theories Can Change:

Learn about scientific theories and how they can change when new information is presented with this interactive tutorial. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Stop! In the Name of Scientific Laws:

Explore how we define and describe scientific phenomena using scientific laws in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Math Models and Social Distancing:

Learn how math models can show why social distancing during a epidemic or pandemic is important in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Limiting Factors in an Ecosystem:

Investigate various limiting factors in an ecosystem and their impact on native populations as you complete this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

As the Scientific Theory Turns:

Learn about scientific theories and how they can change in this space-themed, interactive tutorial

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Let's Investigate!:

Investigate the benefits and limitations of experiments, observational studies, and comparative studies with this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Science Research: Evidence Through Observation:

Learn about different types of scientific investigations as you discover the Zebra Longwing, a special type of butterfly that calls Florida home. In this interactive tutorial, you'll also learn how scientists collaborate with each other and share empirical evidence. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Soccer Science: Why Experiments Need to be Replicable:

Help Ryan revise his soccer science experiment to make it replicable. In this interactive tutorial, you'll learn what "replicable" means and why it's so important in science.


Type: Original Student Tutorial

Think Like a Scientist:

Learn about the tools of science as we look at the mystery of bird migrations in this interactive tutorial. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Expedition of the Earth:

Learn how scientific knowledge is open to change and how the knowledge about the Earth's surface has changed in the past 100 years as you complete this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Not Just Another Science Experiment:

Science isn't just about experiments! Learn about other ways to do science such as observational and comparative studies in this interactive tutorial. Science is varied and interesting as we use scientific skills to learn about the world!

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Is It Science or Pseudoscience?:

Learn the differences between science and pseudoscience in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Using Science to Make Informed Decisions:

Learn how science can help us make informed decisions that improve our lives as you complete this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Science Changes:

Explore the processes of science and how it changes over time. This interactive tutorial uses the historical development of The Cell Theory to illustrate these ideas.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Science in Action: Engineer:

Engineering and science may be similar but their goals are somewhat different. In this interactive tutorial, learn about engineers; some of the different fields of engineering, where engineers work, what they do, and some of their goals. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Science in Action: Geoscientist:

Learn about the work of geo-scientists: What they do, where they work and the types of questions they strive to answer in this interactive tutorial. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Science in Action: Physicist:

Learn about the world of physics and explore what physicists do. In this interactive tutorial, you'll discover where they work and what kinds of questions they try to answer. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Science in Action: Chemist:

Learn about the work of chemists, various fields of chemistry, where chemists work and the types of questions they strive to answer in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Science in Action: Biologist:

Learn about the varied job of a biologist; where they work, what they do and the types of questions they try to answer. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

The Sun Fuels Our Weather:

The Sun is integral in keeping us warm, but did you know the other ways that the Sun is essential to Earth? Learn about how the Sun is important in fueling our weather on Earth. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Human Impact: Desertification:

Explore desertification and the impact people have on it as you complete this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

The Hunt for Exoplanets:

Learn how science relies on creative and innovative thinking as we explore the science of discovering exoplanets in this interactive tutorial. Science is a problem solving endeavor as we try and figure out and learn new things. The answers are hard to find, but if we keep asking questions and building on what we know, then we can solve problems to things we once were thought were impossible!


Type: Original Student Tutorial

Science Research: Developing a Hypothesis:

Learn how to write an effective hypothesis with sharks as a focus in this interactive tutorial. A hypothesis should be testable and falsifiable. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Science Is by Everyone and for Everyone:

Learn about the amazing science discoveries by people from all over the world and all walks of life. In this interactive tutorial, you'll see that science is by and for everyone!

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Limits to Population Growth:

Explore biotic and abiotic factors that can influence the growth of populations of organisms in this interactive tutorial. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Science Research: Writing a Conclusion:

Learn how to write a valid conclusion from a scientific investigation. In this interactive tutorial, you'll also learn how to answer questions using scientific reasoning. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Scientist's Next Top Model:

Come with me as we select Scientist's Next Top Model! When does an abstract idea become a real scientific model? When the model appears in scientific journals and textbooks all over the world. Before a model can grace the cover of these high profile, peer reviewed journals and textbooks it must go through a rigorous process. How does a model go from an idea to a scientific model? What took me 2000 years I am going to make happen for one lucky model in just 15 short minutes!

Competition is tough and each model will have to showcase why they are able to represent themselves as Scientist’s Next Top Model.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

The Transfer of Heat:

Explore the ways in which heat is transferred and some common examples of each type in our lives in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Human Impact: Deforestation:

Explore the loss of forests due to human impacts in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Repetition and Replication:

Learn to differentiate replication (by others) from repetition (multiple trials) in experimental design through the information and practice exercises in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Relationships among Organisms:

Explore relationships among organisms, including mutualism, predation, parasitism, competition, and commensalism in this engaging tutorial!

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Relationships among Organisms in the Kenyan Savannah:

Explore relationships between key species in Kenya and learn how they interact with each other. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Happy Halloween! Textual Evidence and Inferences:

Cite text evidence and make inferences about the "real" history of Halloween in this spooky interactive tutorial. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Solving the Puzzle: Where Do Living Things Come From?:

Explore how scientists have used scientific thinking and methods to develop hypotheses about the development of life on Earth. Throughout this interactive tutorial, you'll see how learning through science requires retesting data, reconsidering evidence, and debate between scientists.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Models in Science:

Learn to identify models and their use in science with this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Identification of Variables:

Learn to identify the independent variable and the dependent variable in an experiment with this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Scientific Laws:

Learn to identify the importance of scientific laws and how they are different from societal laws.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Our Atmospheric Blanket:

Explore how our atmosphere both insulates our planet and protects life on Earth in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Where Have All the Scrub-Jays Gone?:

Investigate the limiting factors of a Florida ecosystem and describe how these limiting factors affect one native population-the Florida Scrub-Jay-with this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Scientific Knowledge Changes:

Learn how scientific knowledge can change when new evidence is discovered or new ideas are developed. In this interactive tutorial, you'll look at some famous example from the history of science, including the cell theory and the theory of plate tectonics.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Natural Disasters:

Learn to identify several types of natural disasters that occur in Florida and how these disasters can affect people living there as you complete this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Antarctic Food Web Challenge:

Explore energy transfer in the Antarctic ecosystem to help Brian solve the mystery of the declining krill population in this interacitve tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Weather vs. Climate:

Learn to distinguish between weather and climate in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Earth's Spheres:

Explore and compare the different spheres of the Earth system, including the geosphere, biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere and cryosphere. In this interactive tutorial, you'll also identify specific examples of the interactions between the Earth's spheres.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Water in Our World:

Learn about the water cycle on Earth and how it affects weather and climate with this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

What Causes Weather?:

Explore the components of weather, including temperature, humidity, precipitation, wind direction and wind speed. In this interactive tutorial, you'll relate the jet stream and ocean circulation to the causes of these conditions, which are caused by the energy from the sun.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Do or Die: Extinction in a Changing World:

Learn how the environment on Earth is constantly changing and that populations of organisms adapt to this change by evolving via natural selection. In this interactive tutorial, you'll discover how organisms do and do not avoid extinction.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

The Main Event: Scientific Theories vs. Scientific Laws:

Learn to recognize and explain the difference between scientific theories and scientific laws in this interactive tutorial. You'll also explore several examples of scientific theories and the evidence that supports them.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

From Flowers To Freckles: Mendel's Mighty Model:

Learn how scientists use models to simplify and understand the world around us. In this interactive tutorial, you'll also explore the benefits and limitations of scientific models.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Educational Games

Stop Disasters Before They Happen:

Students attempt to save towns from damage prior to the arrival of several different natural disasters. Students will learn the importance of early prevention and actions to protect others, themselves and their property when faced with a natural disaster. Certain disasters are more appropriate for particular grade levels. Each scenario takes between 20 and 45 minutes to play, depending on the disaster for which your students are trying to prepare. There are five scenarios available, hurricane, tsunami, flood, earthquake, and wildfire. Each scenario can be played on easy, medium or hard difficulty levels. As with life, there are no "perfect solutions" to each scenario and no "perfect score", so students can play multiple times and the scenarios will still be slightly different.These simulation are part of a larger website that provides multiple links for natural disasters.

Type: Educational Game

Coral Reef Connections-Ecological Relationships Among Reef Creatures:

In this interactive dive through Australia's Great Barrier Reef, discover relationships that have evolved between the resident organisms. Some are predators and prey; others compete for space, food, or mates; and still others are dependent or codependent on each other. Select one of four reef zones, then click on a type of relationship, predation and parasitism, competition or commensalism and mutualism to learn more about these relationships among reef creatures.

Type: Educational Game


Thunderstorms, Tornadoes, Lightning: A Preparedness Guide:

This PDF included at this site has information about family preparedness plans and safety rules, and information about thunderstorms, tornadoes, and lightning such as facts, when and where they occur, and how they form.

Type: Image/Photograph

Common Water Measurements USGS:

This site uses text and images to describe methods that the U.S. Geological Survey measures water temperature, pH, specific conductance, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, hardness, and suspended sediment.

Type: Image/Photograph

Lesson Plans

The Surprising World of Complex Systems:

This lesson introduces students to complex systems and to basic concepts from the field of system dynamics that lie at the heart of systems thinking. These concepts include stocks and flows, feedback loops, unintended consequences, and the basic principle that the behavior of complex systems can best be understood by looking at the system as a whole, and specifically by analyzing the system’s underlying structure. The lesson introduces these topics through an immersion in (and a role-play simulation of) the dynamics of urban recycling systems, many of which have been thrown into crisis in the past two years. Through this current-affairs example of complex systems in crisis, we identify some key structural features that help to explain how these systems behave over time. We also discover how well-intentioned action can cause negative unintended consequences when we try to intervene in a complex system without understanding how it operates.

Type: Lesson Plan

Sea Level Rise: The Ocean's Uplifting Experience:

The purpose of this lesson is to introduce students to the concept of sea level rise as it occurs through climate change by having them examine 3 specific parameters:  ice distribution, thermal expansion, and analyzing and interpreting data.  The lesson and activities within the lesson were designed using the three dimensions of the Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards – specifically crosscutting concepts, science and engineering practices, and disciplinary core ideas. While there isn’t any required pre-requisite learning required for this lesson, a general understanding of sea-level rise, glaciers, and climate may be beneficial to students. During classroom breaks, pairs of students will develop/discuss their models, revise their interpretations of their models or data, and think-pair-share their thoughts on the investigation segments.

Type: Lesson Plan

Perspectives Video: Experts

Monitoring Water Quality in the Florida Keys:

Water quality is extremely important to the aquatic ecosystem, and human activities all over the country can impact the water around the Florida Keys. Dive in and learn more!

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Type: Perspectives Video: Expert

Large-scale Environmental Modeling:

Some scientists' labs are outside! Learn all about a large-scale environmental model called LILA!

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Type: Perspectives Video: Expert

Perspectives Video: Professional/Enthusiast

Making Candy: Energy Transfer:

Candy production requires lots of heat. If you can't stand it, get out of the kitchen so you can watch this video on the couch instead.

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Type: Perspectives Video: Professional/Enthusiast


A Walk Through Time:

This interactive tutorial explores the evolution of time measurement through the ages, beginning with Stonehenge and ancient calendar systems. It progresses through sun and water clocks, mechanical and quartz-movement clocks, and atomic clocks.

Type: Presentation/Slideshow

What is Science?:

Resource provides a succinct overview of the nature of science; what science is and is not. Information includes the aims of scientific pursuits, principles, process and thinking.

Type: Presentation/Slideshow

Water Science for Schools:

This interactive site allows you to learn all about the water cycle. The site provides hydrology data, examples, pictures, definitions, and more in multiple languages.

Type: Presentation/Slideshow

Text Resources

Understanding Invasive Aquatic Plants:

This web resource provides students with an explanation of the differences between native, nonnative, and invasive plants, along with information on three of Florida's aquatic invasive plants--the water hyacinth, hydrilla, and alligatorweed. Through text questions and activities, students will learn how these plants can impair aquatic and wetland ecosystems and inhibit human uses of Florida waters. Readers will gain a greater understanding of how important it is to monitor and control invasive aquatic plants.

Type: Text Resource

Endangered Species:

This site features information on endangered species as well as various organizations and laws pursuing their protection. It includes a list of acronyms, bibliography, index, and one classroom activity.

Type: Text Resource

Why Isn't Pluto A Planet?:

This Frequently Asked Question page can be used by educators and students as a scientific resource to answer the question, "Why isn't Pluto a planet?". From the International Astronomical Union, the definitive answer from the governing body that classified Pluto as a dwarf planet.

Type: Text Resource

Heat Transfer :

This is a great resource to review heat transfer through conduction, convection and radiation.

Type: Text Resource


Greenhouse Effect:

This video will help the learners with their understanding of atmospheric composition and the greenhouse effect.

Type: Tutorial


Will an Ice Cube Melt Faster in Freshwater or Saltwater?:

With an often unexpected outcome from a simple experiment, students can discover the factors that cause and influence thermohaline circulation in our oceans. In two 45-minute class periods, students complete activities where they observe the melting of ice cubes in saltwater and freshwater, using basic materials: clear plastic cups, ice cubes, water, salt, food coloring, and thermometers. There are no prerequisites for this lesson but it is helpful if students are familiar with the concepts of density and buoyancy as well as the salinity of seawater. It is also helpful if students understand that dissolving salt in water will lower the freezing point of water. There are additional follow up investigations that help students appreciate and understand the importance of the ocean's influence on Earth's climate.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Inquiry and Ocean Exploration:

Ocean explorer Robert Ballard gives a TED Talk relating to the mysteries of the ocean, and the importance of its continued exploration.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Supermodels of Science:

This game aims at showing the use of model organisms in behavioral studies and in detecting the causes of certain diseases

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Deep Sea Vents and Life:

Excerpted from NOVA: "Volcanoes of the Deep", this video segment reveals strange and luminescent forms of life, such as giant tube worms, spider crabs, and billions of microbes clumped together like a cottony web. The site where life began on Earth may have been where black smokers stream from hydrothermal vents and chimneys along the sea floor.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation


This video segment from Interactive NOVA: "Earth" describes the role of decomposers in the living world. We've all been victimized by decomposers: Lettuce rots; bread becomes moldy. Bacteria and fungi often consume our food before we have a chance to. However, if we stop to consider the important work that decomposers do, we may be a little less disgruntled by their presence.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Autism Genes:

This 13-minute video segment produced by NOVA Science Now explores the work by one committed family and researchers to identify patterns in the genetic information of autism patients.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Antarctica: A Challenging Work Day:

In this NOVA-adapted video clip, members of a research team deal with the inhospitable climate and other hazards while researching in Antarctica. Many scientists consider the opportunity to do their research in Antarctica a dream come true. The extreme environment and remoteness make it one of the most untouched regions on the planet. There is a treaty that allows more than 20 nations to maintain research facilities, and dedicates the entire continent to peaceful scientific investigation.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation


This 2-1/2 minute video segment from Interactive NOVA: "Earth" explores the history of plant biology. The video takes the viewer from the earliest scientific hypotheses that plants "eat" dirt, to our present-day understanding of photosynthesis, the process by which plants use the sun's energy to convert carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates, a storable form of chemical energy.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Virtual Manipulatives

Telescopes from the Ground Up:

In this interactive site, navigate through the fascinating history and science of telescopes. Learn about Galileo, Newton, refractors, reflectors, lenses, light, and telescope engineering and technology.

Type: Virtual Manipulative

The Disaster Area: FEMA for Kids:

Through this website, students learn about different weather disasters and what to do before, during, and after an emergency.

Type: Virtual Manipulative

Parent Resources

Vetted resources caregivers can use to help students learn the concepts and skills in this course.