Matter and Energy for Growth and Activity (MEGA), a new high school curriculum unit developed by Project 2061, AAAS’s science literacy initiative, will be published by NSTA Press next year. The MEGA unit builds on ideas about atom rearrangement and conservation that are the focus of the middle school Toward High School Biology unit, which was also developed by Project 2061 and published by NSTA Press. With the new MEGA unit, high school biology students go on to apply ideas about matter and energy to explain how living things use food as a source of matter for building and repairing their body structures and as a source of energy for carrying out a wide range of body functions.
Together the two units tell a coherent story that addresses Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) performance expectations for middle and high school life and physical sciences and supports the vision of three-dimensional learning and teaching called for in both NGSS and in the National Research Council’s A Framework for K-12 Science Education. Focusing on important but often difficult core ideas and crosscutting concepts about matter and energy in nonliving and living systems, the MEGA unit also engages students in a range of essential science practices such as analyzing data, using mathematics, and developing and using models to make sense of and to explain real-world phenomena.
Developed with a grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, the new unit has been tested extensively in classrooms in Maryland and New Jersey. Results from a randomized control trial study showed improved learning gains for students who used the MEGA unit compared to students who used a district-developed text. The unit is expected to be available for use during the 2019-2020 school year.