In the 21st century a person must be armed with a science overview to adapt to the extraordinary changes that will occur, to be employed by the new industries that will emerge, and to participate in the decisions that society will make. The key is education and programs such as Science and Technology for Children (STC) and Full Option Science Systems (FOSS) to give every student science content and science process needed to develop scientific literacy.
Our elementary science program places an emphasis on acquiring skills, knowledge and attitudes toward science through active involvement in hands-on activities. The heart of the program is problem solving. Students are actively engaged in situations which begin with their questions and take them through the process of inquiry. Students gather information to help them find answers to their questions using the data they have collected.
Because many of the ideas being studied have direct relation to other disciplines, students are encouraged to make connections. We provide literature and other resources to foster such connections. Teachers are encouraged to enrich science instruction with topics of interest to their students and themselves. The catalyst for such studies may be student-generated questions, teacher or parent interest or current events. Problem solving is the common thread which ties these topical studies to our core curriculum.
Teachers assess student progress by observing their development as observers, hypothesizers, careful data gatherers and generalizers and by watching them work, reviewing their journals, and assessing their written and oral responses.
Our core program includes a unit of study that includes hands-on activities, specific scientific skill development (observing, measuring, comparing, predicting, estimating, and describing), problem solving, and assessment.
In grade three these topics are ROCKS AND MINERALS and PLANT GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT. ROCKS AND MINERALS gives third graders the opportunity to investigate the properties of rocks and minerals. Students explore the similarities and differences among rocks; they also study how rocks and minerals are both similar and different. They conduct several tests on minerals and develop a systematic way to record their observations. Finally, students apply the information they have collected to identify the minerals they have been studying by name. These activities introduce students to the way geologists study rocks and minerals. They also help students develop and apply process skills in observing, describing, and recording.
PLANT GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT gives students the opportunity to experience the complete life cycle of a plant in a very short time and learn that the cycle includes germination, growth, development of specialized parts, and even death, with the promise of new life in the seed. Students will observe seeds and record their observations in writing and by making scientific drawings. They will gain experience with practical gardening techniques of thinning and transplanting. The unit emphasizes the theme of interdependence and explores the reasons why the bee and the flower need each other.
Always building upon prior knowledge and understandings, students will use the following vocabulary words in the study of science in grade three:
- food chain
- food web