IQWST Integrated Storylines

Part of the intellectual richness and rigor of IQWST® is in the challenge it provides as students connect ideas across modules. The integrated version of IQWST provides a unique opportunity to implement storylines in two ways. First, IQWST’s storyline approach has always been to use a Driving Question as the module title as well as the project or problem around which each module is built. That is, students, build an understanding of DCIs, CCCs, and SEPs in a coherent manner from one lesson to the next, with each activity ending with a new question or a not-yet-solved problem that is addressed in the following activity. Hence, from a student perspective, a story is built from lesson to lesson within each module, with the aim of answering the Driving Question as a complete, evidence-based explanation.

The unique opportunity that the integrated version provides is for the implementation of a yearlong storyline that enables students at each grade level to connect one module to another across the school year. And while all CCCs, SEPs, and specified DCIs and PEs are addressed in various modules, systems and interactions are a theme across all of middle school, connecting one module to another within and across grade levels, and supporting students’ understanding of systems in a coherent manner.

Addressing Storylines with Students

The storylines described below are written from a student's perspective. The broad storylines provide shape for each school year and, along with the transition ideas, help illuminate the rationale and vision for the curriculum sequence in the IQWST Integrated Edition. The transition statements provide language you may use with students (altered as you wish) to build a story from module to module within each grade level and from one year to the next. This kind of connection, and the coherence already built into the modules, helps students maintain a conceptual thread over time. That way, each module is seen not as a separate topic, distinct from those before and after it, but as part of an entire middle school learning experience in which building understanding and connecting ideas is at the foundation of the science curriculum.

Grade 6

Broad storyline: All organisms (including me) are systems that are part of even larger systems; these systems all interact with and affect each other in important ways.

  • Module 6.1: What is Going on Inside Me?
  • Module 6.2: Why is It So Challenging to Predict the Weather?
  • Module 6.3: Why Do Organisms Look the Way they Do?
  • Module 6.4: How Do Humans Affect the Earth Around Us?


From Module 6.1 to 6.2: Our bodies are systems made up of systems—and every day we live and operate in systems all around us that affect us in different and important ways. For example, we are directly affected by the system all around us that creates the weather. How does the weather affect us? What makes different kinds of weather happen?

From Module 6.2 to 6.3: We’ve looked at an important system around us that affects us every day. What factors that are inside us affect each of us? For example, what factors affect who you are and what you look like? Do you think that the environment affects who you are and what you look like?

From Module 6.3 to 6.4: We’ve spent the year so far talking about different types of systems and how they affect us (and other organisms). Let’s end the year thinking about a different way of looking at interactions: What effects do we have on systems around us?

Grade 7

Broad storyline: Both natural processes and human activities cause energy to flow and matter to cycle throughout Earth’s systems, both systems around us and systems in us, and we have the ability to make changes in some of those systems.

  • Module 7.1 What Makes Up Earth’s Natural Resources?
  • Module 7.2 How Can I Make New Substances from Old Substances?
  • Module 7.3 What Do I Have in Common with Planet Earth?
  • Module 7.4 What Can Cause Population Change?


From 6th grade to 7th grade: In 6th grade, you investigated what makes the human body a system, and you spent the year looking at humans as part of many nesting systems that all interact with each other. This year, we’re going to look much, much more closely at the interactions within those systems. Let’s start with a very basic question: What kinds of things do we need to stay alive on Earth?

From Module 7.1 to 7.2: Now that we’ve looked at what we need to stay alive, looked at natural resources up close enough to give us evidence that everything on Earth is made up of atoms and molecules, what do scientists do with their understanding of atoms and molecules? Why is it important? How does that understanding help us in any way?

From Module 7.2 to 7.3: Now that we understand chemical reactions as a way to use our understanding of atoms and molecules to change starting substances into new products, what other ways do things on Earth change? How does the Earth change without us doing anything? How do we change? Do chemical reactions have anything to do with changes in us or around us?

From Module 7.3 to 7.4: We’ve spent the year so far talking about different types of Earth systems and body systems as well as the changes in both of the systems, including investigating how matter and energy flow between systems. Besides the changes we’ve already talked about, what other ways do things on Earth change? What else can happen to cause changes in the environment, for example? How about between organisms and their environment (ecosystems)?

Grade 8

Broad storyline: We are part of a large universe that affects us on a large scale as well as a much smaller scale, and is governed by principles that have affected Earth and life on Earth across time. We also play a part in what happens to the planet and to the organisms that make Earth our home.

  • Module 8.1 How Does the Universe Affect Me?
  • Module 8.2 How Do Forces Impact Me?
  • Module 8.3 How Do Living Things Change Over Time?
  • Module 8.4 On What Issues of Sustainability Will You Take Action?


From 7th to 8th grade: So far in middle school, you've learned about interactions between many types of systems. We’re going to start this year by investigating systems of very different sizes and scales, learn more about what makes something a system, and learn more about what drives interactions within and between systems. Some important (and big!) processes changed Earth’s systems in the past, and many of those still affect Earth today. What do you know about how Earth became a planet? How do any of those same processes affect us now?

From Module 8.1 to 8.2: Now that we've investigated some very large-scale processes in the universe, and we've looked up close at how important light is everywhere, including in how we see things directly around us, what other processes that affect the universe affect us as people living on planet Earth?

From Module 8.2 to 8.3: We’ve seen that processes that began the universe and our solar system long ago and other processes that happen around and in us as we sit in our desks continue to affect us and other organisms on Earth. How do scientists figure out what happened in the past and whether those processes will continue in the future?

From Module 8.3 to 8.4: You've studied plants and animals; you've studied the history of Earth; you've studied laws that govern how things work, and theories that describe how things work; you've studied interactions among all kinds of systems; you've read about scientists in history and modern scientists, and you've asked lots and lots of questions about how and why things work as they do. Based on all you've learned so far, we're now going to look at what we can do to keep all the systems working that enable us to live and to live on this planet. What can we do to affect processes and changes on Earth? What can we do collectively? What can you do as one person?

Pages from Abbreviated 6.3 Integrated Edition Storyline (LS1)