Major Themes for the Unit

  • Scientific Themes: Science Themes: General Nutrition, Biochemical Pathways, Energy Systems in Sport
  • Scientific Practice(s): Constructing Explanations, Engaging in Argumentation from Evidence
  • SSI: “Fat Tax” (taxation of food deemed to be obesogenic, based on their macronutrient profile and/or ingredients)
  • First-hand exploration of scientific themes and synthesis of related societal dimensions through analysis of significant historical and current events

Driving (Unit) Question: Should the U.S. consider implementing a "fat tax" on non-nutritious foods to discourage people from unhealthful nutrition choices?

Concepts needed to explore the driving question:

  • Science concepts:
    • Macronutrients as energy sources
    • Chemical structure and function of macro- and micronutrients
    • Carbohydrate & fat metabolism: pathways and hormonal regulation
    • Nutrition and energy systems in athletic performance
  • Societal dimensions:
    • Socioeconomic disparity, food deserts
    • Conflicts among economic ideologies
    • Conflicts among political ideologies
    • Healthcare regulation
    • Political motives influencing government recommendations
    • Uncertainty & disagreement in “new” and complex science field

Unit-level performance expectations

  • Construct and revise an explanation based on evidence for how carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen from sugar molecules may combine with other elements to form amino acids and/or other large carbon-based molecules (HS-LS1-6).
  • Use a model to illustrate that cellular respiration is a chemical process whereby the bonds of food molecules and oxygen molecules are broken and the bonds in new compounds are formed resulting in a net transfer of energy (HS-LS1-7).
  • (All Sports, Exercise, and Health Science Core Syllabus Assessment Statements, International Baccalaureate Organization) *link to PDF

Unit Assessment(s)

  • Daily Starter Question (revisiting Essential Science Question)
  • 3-Day Food Diary: documentation and stepwise analysis of own dietary intake
    • macronutrient content analysis & related energy calculations
    • micronutrient content analysis
    • tracing of fat & carbohydrate metabolic pathways
    • comparison to current and historical nutrition recommendations
  • Culminating Event: position paper on proposed Fat Tax

Overall Instructional Sequence


The materials associated with the Nutrition unit are based upon work The Missouri Transect, a National Science Foundation EPSCoR Program, Cooperative Agreement IIA-1355406. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.​