Elementary School (K-5)

Elementary School grade levels Kindergarten through 5.

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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Detecting Photosynthesis- Analyzing Other Scientists' Data

Author(s): SEP Staff (Architecture of Life Course)

Detecting Photosynthesis- Analyzing Other Scientists' Data

Students will analyze the results of another scientist's experiment by examining leaves that have been exposed to different treatments, and draw conclusions about the process of photosynthesis.

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Skulls- Herbivores, Omnivores, and Carnivores

Author(s): Jen

Skulls- Herbivores, Omnivores, and Carnivores

Students familiarize themselves with different types of animal skulls and teeth.  From observation they learn to tell which skulls are those of herbivores, omnivores and carnivores.

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Testing for Lipids, Proteins and Carbohydrates

Author(s): SEP staff (Chemistry of Life lesson)

Testing for Lipids, Proteins and Carbohydrates

Students will test a variety of food samples for the presence of lipids, proteins, simple and complex carbohydrates.

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What is matter?

Author(s): SEP staff

What is matter?

This activity is based on a lesson from the Living by Chemistry curriculum developed by the Lawrence Hall of Science (see citation).

During this activity students explore in depth their own understanding of what constitutes "matter" and work together as a group to create a definition for matter.

Students work in pairs to debate how to sort "items" printed on cards into three categories: "matter", "non-matter" and "unsure" and then try to determine what properties all items in each category have in common. A whole class discussion about "tricky" items follows during which students ultimately agree on a definition of matter.

You can choose which cards you would like to use depending on your students' age, abilities, and experiences.  As an example, for elementary grades, you might choose not to use the entire set.

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Ocean Pollution & its effect on aquatic animals

Author(s): Mary Matyskiela, Lani Keller

Ocean Pollution & its effect on aquatic animals

Students brainstorm different sources of pollution.  Then, students make their own miniature ocean inside a water bottle, and pollute it with waste and oil to observe the effects on animals in the water.  A demonstration shows students the effect of oil on birds' feathers and discuss the consequences of oil spills for water birds.

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Measuring Calories in Food

Author(s): Luna Abdallah, Elinor Sullivan, Bethany Currin, Mathew Campana

Measuring Calories in Food

The lesson introduces the concept of calories and provides examples of high calorie and low calorie foods. Students learn a number of ways to determine how many calories a food item has and discuss how calories influence body weight. Students learn how to measure calories by constructing and using a calorimeter.

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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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Investigating the types of energy in different objects (lesson one of eight)

Author(s): Ben Engel, Arthur Millius, Lisa Monti and Helen Wong-Lew

Investigating the types of energy in different objects (lesson one of eight)

Class discussion on what energy is and different examples of energy. Instructors write words associated with each type of energy. Students pick an object and classify what energy it has. Students now take turns describing their object and defining what sort of energy it has.

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Conversion of energy into different forms (lesson two of eight)

Author(s): Ben Engel, Arthur Millius, Lisa Monti and Helen Wong-Lew

Conversion of energy into different forms (lesson two of eight)

Students investigate flash paper, rubber bands, a mechanical crank, and a radiometer to determine the energy conversion occurring in each.

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Energy Conversion in Electricity – Resistors and Circuits (lesson three of eight)

Author(s): Ben Engel, Arthur Millius, Lisa Monti and Helen Wong-Lew

Energy Conversion in Electricity – Resistors and Circuits (lesson three of eight)

Students are introduced to the concept of a resistor and reminded about electrical energy from the previous lesson. They are then challenged to build a GIANT circuit to determine whether the size of a circuit affects whether it lights a bulb. They build as a class a giant series and giant parallel circuit. Then, in pairs, they build their own circuits with different resistors.

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Making a battery

Author(s): Florian Merkle and Margot Juhr

Making a battery

This is an inquiry-based activity in which students are given materials to make a battery. Students work in pairs and results are shared with the class. Content is discussed after the hands-on session.

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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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Electromagnets (lesson four of eight)

Author(s): Ben Engel, Arthur Millius, Lisa Monti and Helen Wong-Lew

Electromagnets (lesson four of eight)

Introduce the scientific method, control and variable. Reiterate that electricity can be used to create magnetic energy and discuss the different properties of an electromagnet (number of batteries, number or wires turns, or material of wire). Students then take time to think of experiments varying these properties and then test their hypotheses by actually performing the experiment they thought of.

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States of Matter (lesson five of eight)

Author(s): Ben Engel, Arthur Millius, Lisa Monti and Helen Wong-Lew

States of Matter (lesson five of eight)

Students investigate the difference between ice and dry ice, and review the concept of control and variable. The scientists demonstrate condensation, sublimation, and freezing with a series of object lessons.

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Understanding Germs (Bacteria, Viruses and Fungi)

Author(s): Helen Hwang, Mary Mohrin, David Allyn, Mithril Cox

Understanding Germs (Bacteria, Viruses and Fungi)

This lesson focuses on understanding "germs" (specifically bacteria, viruses, and fungi), how they cause illness, how they can help us, and some lessons about personal hygiene (protecting ourselves from germs).  Students learn about the different classes of germs via a book and discussion, assign germ names, symptoms and modes of contraction to microbe stuffed animals, and finally try to wash "Glo Germ" off their hands to emphasize the importance of personal hygine.

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The energy of life in zebrafish (lesson six of eight)

Author(s): Ben Engel, Arthur Millius, Lisa Monti and Helen Wong-Lew

The energy of life in zebrafish (lesson six of eight)

We introduce the concept that life needs energy to grow. We explain a little about microscopy and then the students observe different stages of zebrafish development (except we do not tell them that it is a zebrafish). Then student predict what animal they are observing leading up to a big reveal.

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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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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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Investigating the Relationship of Mass to Volume

Author(s): Linda Akiyama and Ranyee Chiang

Investigating the Relationship of Mass to Volume

Students practice the process of doing investigative science through team investigations. They investigate two materials that weigh the same amount. The testable question: If I have an amount of gravel and an amount of sand of the same weight, will they take up the same amount of space? Together, the class makes predictions, and decides on materials and procedures. Then in pairs, students do the investigation, collect data and draw conclusions.  After this activity, students will be better able to develop independent investigations in this and other subject areas.

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