City Science (K-5)

The City Science Summer Institute is designed to give elementary school teachers grade level experience in hands-on, inquiry-based science.

Demonstrating how to Conduct Controlled Investigations: Example Using Sound

Author(s): Linda Akiyama and Ranyee Chiang

Demonstrating how to Conduct Controlled Investigations: Example Using Sound

The teacher conducts an investigation to compare the sound produced by two different sized pipes (higher pitch, lower pitch, louder, softer).  The teacher conducts the experiment multiple times, each time changing different variables.  The students are "directors" and are asked to "cut" the scene when they observe something wrong with the experiment.

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Introducing Models to Elementary School Students

Author(s): Linda Akiyama and Ranyee Chiang

Introducing Models to Elementary School Students

Students learn what a model is by comparing a model of the tongue to their own tongue. They practice asking themselves, "How is this model like the thing it represents, and how is it different?"  This format of questioning can be used when using any model in science and can be used to check students' understanding and misconceptions.

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Sheep Heart Dissection

Author(s): Chris Cain and Soroya Wood

Sheep Heart Dissection

Students observe and dissect a sheep heart. In doing so, they learn about how the heart works and what it really looks like.

While this lesson is adaptable for many grade levels, it is a great fit with California's FOSS 5th grade Living Systems kit and that kit's goal of learning the structures and functions of the circulatory system.

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Hands On With Cells - Using Slide Viewers and Microscopes

Author(s): Chris Cain and Soroya Wood

Hands On With Cells - Using Slide Viewers and Microscopes

In this activity students use microscopes and slide viewers to visualize cells and record what they see. Emphasis is on *recording observations*. Students are introduced to new technologies and to the diversity of cells that make up our body and that exist in plants.

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Do You Know Bamboo?

Author(s): Jennifer Howard and Yoko Nozawa

Do You Know Bamboo?View this entire lesson plan

What is the best brand of paper towel?

Author(s): Yoko Nozawa, Jennifer Howard

What is the best brand of paper towel?

Compare different brands of paper towel for their strength and absorbancy through a series of short investigations.  This lesson can be used in conjuction with the FOSS Wood and Paper kit, or on its own.

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Meet a Land Snail

Author(s): Jennifer Howard and Reba Howard

Meet a Land Snail

In this lesson students will play a guessing game, observe land snails, and create a realistic drawing of a land snail.  At the end of the lesson they will brainstorm things they wonder about Land Snails.

This lesson is alternate or introductory lesson to the FOSS lesson on observing land snails.  Students begin and end the lesson as a whole group and observe either independently or in pairs.

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Observing and Drawing the Structures of Guppies and Goldfish

Author(s): Jennifer Howard and Reba Howard

Observing and Drawing the Structures of Guppies and Goldfish

This lesson is a modifcation to FOSS Investigation #1 in the Animals 2 x2 unit.  In this version the students are observing both guppies and goldfish at the same time as their first introduction to the fish (where as in FOSS they have them look at them separately on separate days). Also, in this version, students not only observe, but learn to do drawings "like scientists".  They use new worksheets and write a few words about what they see.

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Meet an Aquatic Snail

Author(s): Jennifer Howard and Reba Howard

Meet an Aquatic Snail

In this lesson students will observe aquatic snails, create a realistic drawing of an aquatic snail, and create a class list of questions about aquatic snails.  This lesson is alternate or introductory lesson to the FOSS lesson on observing water snails.  Students begin and end the lesson as a whole group and observe either independently or in pairs.

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Pollination

Author(s): Anastasia Pickens and Arthur Millius

Pollination

This activity approaches pollination through: 1) a game to understand the role of the pollinator, 2) a flower dissection to understand the structure and function of flower parts, and 3) a video to see seed dispersal in action. Allow 2 sessions to complete

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Draw an Alien in its Natural Habitat

Author(s): Linda Akiyama

Draw an Alien in its Natural Habitat

This is an extension and assessment activity for the Unit, "What is a Living Thing, and How Does a Living Thing Respond to Changes in its Environment?"

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Student Designed Investigations Part 4 - Poster Presentations/Science Fair

Author(s): Linda Akiyama

Student Designed Investigations Part 4 - Poster Presentations/Science Fair

This lesson is from the unit, "What is a Living Thing, and How Does a Living Thing Respond to Its Environment?" The unit is designed to be taught prior to teaching the adopted FOSS curriculum on life sciences. In this unit students are given time to think about and discuss the fundamental question, "What is a Living Thing?" They are also introduced to a process for planning science investigations on the topic of how different living things interact with their environment. The unit ends with students deciding on a testable question, designing an investigation, doing the investigation, collecting data and drawing conclusions. Students then create poster presentations of  their investigation for a grade level science fair.

In this particular lesson, students create Poster presentations explaining their investigations. They use the posters to help them present their investigations to an audience of adults and children at a science fair.

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Student Designed Investigations Part 3 – Collecting Data and Drawing Conclusions

Author(s): Linda Akiyama

Student Designed Investigations Part 3 – Collecting Data and Drawing Conclusions

This lesson is from the unit, "What is a Living Thing, and How Does a Living Thing Respond to Its Environment?" The unit is designed to be taught prior to teaching the adopted FOSS curriculum on life sciences. In this unit students are given time to think about and discuss the fundamental question, "What is a Living Thing?" They are also introduced to a process for planning science investigations on the topic of how different living things interact with their environment. The unit ends with students deciding on a testable question, designing an investigation, doing the investigation, collecting data and drawing conclusions. Students then create poster presentations of  their investigation for a grade level science fair.

In this particular lesson, students work in pairs to carry out their investgations, collect data, and make inferences based on their data.

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Student Designed Investigations Part 2 – Testable Questions, Predictions, Materials and Procedures

Author(s): Linda Akiyama

Student Designed Investigations Part 2 – Testable Questions, Predictions, Materials and Procedures

This lesson is from the unit, "What is a Living Thing, and How Does a Living Thing Respond to Its Environment?" The unit is designed to be taught prior to teaching the adopted FOSS curriculum on life sciences. In this unit students are given time to think about and discuss the fundamental question, "What is a Living Thing?" They are also introduced to a process for planning science investigations on the topic of how different living things interact with their environment. The unit ends with students deciding on a testable question, designing an investigation, doing the investigation, collecting data and drawing conclusions. Students then create poster presentations of  their investigation for a grade level science fair.

In this particular lesson, students work in pairs to decide on a testable question, make predictions, choose materials, and plan a procedure.

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Student Designed Investigations Part 1 – Observations

Author(s): Linda Akiyama

Student Designed Investigations Part 1 – Observations

This lesson is from the unit, "What is a Living Thing and How Does a Living Thing Respond to Its Environment?", that is designed to be taught prior to teaching the adopted FOSS curriculum on life sciences. In this unit students are given time to think about and discuss the fundamental question, "What is a Living Thing?" They are also introduced to a method for doing their own science investigations on the topic of how different living things interact with their environment. The unit ends with students deciding on a testable question, designing an investigation, doing the investigation, collecting data and drawing conclusions. Students then create poster presentations of  their investigation and findings for a grade level science fair.

In Part 1 of this particular lesson, students work in pairs to observe a living organism and to brainstorm changes in the living thing's environment that would be important for the living organism to sense. They think about what structures their organism can use to sense and respond to its environment.

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Introducing the Process of Investigative Science Using Crayfish

Author(s): Linda Akiyama

Introducing the Process of Investigative Science Using Crayfish

Students will be introduced to the process of doing investigative science and will become familiar with vocabulary used in the process of doing science.  Given a testable question and a set of materials, students will make predictions, and then design procedures to create a "fair test "with teacher guidance. The class will investigate where a crayfish will go when put in a basin of water with a small shelter inside the basin.

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Introducing Cells

Author(s): Linda Akiyama

Introducing Cells

Students learn that all living things are made of cells. They use a microscope to look for evidence of plant cells(from onion) and animal cells(from human cheek).

This lesson is from the unit, "What is a Living Thing, and How Does a Living Thing Respond to Its Environment?" The unit is designed to supplement the adopted FOSS curriculum on life sciences. In this unit students are given time to think about and discuss the fundamental question, "What is a Living Thing?" They are also introduced to a process for planning science investigations on the topic of how different living things interact with their environment. The unit ends with students deciding on a testable question, designing an investigation, doing the investigation, collecting data and drawing conclusions. Students then create poster presentations of  their investigation for a grade level science fair.

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Living or Non-living?

Author(s): Linda Akiyama (adapted from SEP Architecture of Life -"What Is Life?" Lesson)

Living or Non-living?

Students will investigate different objects and discuss whether they are alive or not alive. Students are challenged to provide evidence for their decision and defend their opinion.

This is the second lesson of a unit (What are Living Things and How does a Living thing Respond to Its Environment?) that was designed to precedes teaching the adopted FOSS unit on life sciences. In this unit students are given time to think about and discuss the fundamental question, "What is a Living Thing?" They are also introduced to a method for doing their own science investigations on the topic of how different living things interact with their environment. The unit ends with students deciding on a testable question, designing an investigation, doing the investigation, collecting data and drawing conclusions. Students then create poster presentations of  their investigation and findings for a grade level science fair.

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What Do Living Things Have In Common?

Author(s): Linda Akiyama (adapted from SEP lesson)

What Do Living Things Have In Common?

Students work in teams to discuss the question "What do all living things have in common?" They record their ideas and share their background knowledge. Then the groups come together and try to reach consensus about the characteristics that all living things share by asking each other questions and defending their ideas.

This is the first lesson from the unit, "What is a Living Thing, and How Does a Living Thing Respond to Its Environment?" The unit is designed to supplement the adopted FOSS curriculum on life sciences. In this unit students are given time to think about and discuss the fundamental question, "What is a Living Thing?" They are also introduced to a process for planning science investigations on the topic of how different living things interact with their environment. The unit ends with students deciding on a testable question, designing an investigation, doing the investigation, collecting data and drawing conclusions. Students then create poster presentations of  their investigation for a grade level science fair.

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What is a Living Thing, and How Does a Living Thing Respond to Its Environment? - Unit Overview

Author(s): Linda Akiyama

What is a Living Thing, and How Does a Living Thing Respond to Its Environment? - Unit Overview

"What is a Living Thing and How Does a Living Thing Respond to Its Environment?" is a unit designed to be taught prior to teaching the adopted FOSS curriculum on life sciences. In this unit students are given time to think about and discuss the fundamental question, "What is a Living Thing?" They are also introduced to a process for planning science investigations on the topic of how different living things interact with their environment. The unit ends with students deciding on a testable question, designing an investigation, doing the investigation, collecting data and drawing conclusions. Students then create poster presentations of  their investigation for a grade level science fair.

UNIT: What is a Living Thing, and How Does a Living Thing Respond to Its Environment?

Lessons:

1) What Do Living Things Have in Common?

2) Living or Non-living?

3) Introducing Cells

4) Introducing the Process of Investigative Science

5) Student Designed Investigations Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4- A Living Thing Responds to Its Environment

Part 1 - Observation

Part 2 - Testable Questions, Predictions, Materials, and Procedures

Part 3 - Collection Data and Drawing Conclusions

Part 4 - Poster Presentations/Science Fair

6) Extension Activity - Draw an Alien in Its Natural Habitat

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Introducing the Process of Investigative Science Using Worms

Author(s): Linda Akiyama

Introducing the Process of Investigative Science Using Worms

Students are introduced to the process of investigative science through a guided inquiry activity. Given a testable question and materials, students as a class make predictions, and design an investigation with guidance from the teacher. Then in pairs, students do the investigation, collect data, draw conclusions, and discuss ways to improve on the investigative design.  After this activity, students will be able to develop independent investigations in this and other subject areas.

Students learn that a living thing can sense and respond to its environment.

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Understanding Air Pressure (a lesson series)

Author(s): Nathan Gosse and Kim Probst

Understanding Air Pressure (a lesson series)

The activitites establish the concepts of atmospheric pressure, differences in pressure, how changing volume affects pressure, and a molecular model of how air pressure arises.  Modified from the 5th grade FOSS Water Planet Investigation "The Pressure is On" (Investigation 4, part 3)

The lesson opens with some demonstrations and activities to introduce the properties of air. Moving on to air pressure, the teacher demonstrates how one can pick up liquid in a straw using a finger as a stopper. The students make a barometer, experiment with a bag and a jar, and participate in a straw race. For each activity the question of what is causing each phenomenon is asked. Students then do single and double syringe activity from FOSS Water Planet Investigation #4. After discussion of syringe activities students are asked to go back to initial demonstrations/activities and pick one to explain in a poster format.

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What is an atom?

Author(s): Linda Akiyama and Ranyee Chiang

What is an atom?

The students will repeatedly cut a piece of aluminum foil into smaller and smaller pieces to model the process of how you can break a substance down from a large number of atoms to a single atom.  This activity is meant to supplement the introduction to atoms on Foss Matter and Energy, Investigation 4: Changing Matter, Part 2: Melting and Evaporation, page 183.

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Heating Earth

Author(s): Nathan Gosse and Kim Probst

Heating Earth

Students develop an experimental plan to investigate the question how solar energy heats different earth materials (water and land). A container half filled with water and half with soil is exposed to full sun (if doing it outside) or placed under incandescent lights (inside). Students take temperature readings of both materials for 15 minutes and then either bring setups to a shady spot or turn off the lights. Again students record change in temperature in intervals during the next 15 minutes and then graph results. Lesson introduces the concepts energy transfer, solar energy, and heat sink.

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Observing Properties of Matter

Author(s): Linda Akiyama and Ranyee Chiang

Observing Properties of Matter

Students will observe two materials and compare their properties. They will use this information in a later lesson to help them predict whether an equal amount by weight of the two materials will take up the same amount of space (volume). This will lead to a discussion and activity about density.

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