Elementary Science Curriculum
The Erie's Public Schools Elementary Science program provides hands-on inquiry based science materials in the areas of Earth, Physical, and Life science for ALL elementary schools. When teachers teach science using an inquiry-based approach, they serve as facilitators of student learning by engaging students in the scientific process of “doing science” thus increasing learning retention rates. Students also develop valuable lifelong skills, such as problem solving, critical thinking and teamwork to prepare them to compete successfully in a global economy.
Elementary Science Sequence:
In Physical Science students are introduced to a wide variety of fabrics in a systematic way, so that they become familiar with fabrics' properties, discover what happens when they are tested, and discover how they interact with other materials, including water.
In Earth/Life Science students observe and describe the properties of trees and leaves in the schoolyard. They compare similarities and differences of trees and leaves observed on mini-field trips around the schoolyard. The students observe trees throughout the school year for changes that come with different seasons.They use drawings and oral language to describe observations.
In Life Science students gain close and personal interaction with some common land and water animals studied in pairs. Students observe and care for one animal over time, and then are introduced to another animal similar to the first but with differences in structure and behavior. This process enhances opportunities for observation, communication, and comparison.
In Earth Science students discover that cloud cover, precipitation, wind, and temperature are features of weather. They learn that these features can not only be observed with the senses but also measured with scientific instruments such as thermometers, wind scales, and rain gauges. Investigations of wind introduce students to the concept that air is a physical substance that surrounds us, takes up space,and has material properties. They obtain experience collecting, organizing, and interpreting long term data.
In Physical Science students explore that we live in a world where everything seems to be in motion, but not everything moves in the same way. They create models to demonstrate and explore movement and its variables. They also plan and carry out investigations with sound and with magnetic force.
In Life Science students investigate a variety of organisms. They discover that organisms have certain basic needs; food, shelter, and water. They learn that organisms have certain specific needs that are specific to the type of organism, such as type of water, range of temperature, and type of food. Students also learn that organisms grow and change over time. They discover that plants and animals are both similar and different, and all organisms can be classified on the basis of their similarities and differences.
In Earth Science students develop a curiosity and interest in the physical world by observing, describing, and sorting earth materials based on their properties. They observe similarities and differences in the materials in a river rock mixture: silt, sand, gravel, and small and large pebbles while exploring places where earth materials are found.
In Physical Science students engage in scientific inquiry as they expand their understanding of solids, liquids, and gases and how they change. Through experiences, students see that change is a characteristic of reactions and phase changes. They identify that solids, liquids, and gases can be described by their properties.
In Life Science students investigate the life cycle of the Painted Lady Butterfly. Students observe, describe, and record the changes of the organisms life cycle. They identify that organisms change their form and behaviors as part of their life cycles. They identify the structures of the caterpillar and the butterfly and how these structures help the organism survive. Students identify characteristics that appear in both parents and offspring.
In Earth Science students discover that earth materials have distinctive physical and chemical properties. The concepts explored include: rock formation, rocks as aggregates of minerals, distinctive properties of minerals identifiable through testing, mineral composition, and use of rocks and minerals as determined by their properties.
In Physical Science students learn to discriminate between sounds generated by dropped objects, how sounds can be made louder or softer and higher or lower, how sounds travel through a variety of materials, and how sounds get from a source to a receiver. Scientific thinking processes are used to conduct investigations and build explanations through observing, communicating, comparing, and organizing.
In Life Science students focus on plant life cycles utilizing Brassica rapa, the Wisconsin Fast Plant. They explore the concept that plants go through distinct stages that are part of a life cycle. After planting seeds, students observe and record the first stages of growth. Using a bee stick to simulate the actions of a bee, students gain an understanding of pollination and its role in fertilization. They explore the relationship between form and function as they construct models of a Brassica plant and of a bee.
An additional unit in grade three is the Earth and the Solar System. In this unit students study the most massive celestial body in the solar system, the sun They will learn about the forms of energy that come from the sun and how it effects, and is necessary for, all life on Earth.
In Earth Science students investigate the interactions between land and water. Using a stream table as a model, they create hills, build dams, and grow vegetation. Students discover how water changes the shape of land and how features of land in turn affect the flow of water.
In Physical Science students discover that electricity in circuits can generate energy in the for of light, heat, and magnetism. Students learn that electric circuits require a complete circle through which an electrical current passes, and that different types of circuits show different characteristics. Students acquire the skills to wire a simple electric circuit, to build and use a circuit tester and switch, and to apply the information to discover and build a flashlight and wire a model house.
In Life Science students explore animals from three diverse habitats: aquatic, terrestrial, and an organism that lives in both. Students develop skills in observing and describing animals' physical characteristics and behaviors.An additional unit in Grade 4 is one that students study the Earth and Moon. In this unit students learn that Earth is one of several planets that orbit the sun and that the moon orbits the Earth.An additional unit in Grade 4 is the Earth and Moon. In this unit the students learn that Earth is one of several planets that orbit the sun and that the moon orbits the Earth.
In the first unit of study for grade 5 students explore the basis for scientific investigations. They control variables and conduct controlled experiments using several multi-variable systems, such as pendulums, airplanes, boats, and catapults.They observe and compare the outcomes of experiments and identify relationships between independent and dependent variables. They gather data from their experiments and graph the relationships that they observe.
In Physical Science students explore the physics of motion and design and apply these to a technological design. Students discover that force is the push or pull on an object and that an unbalanced force is needed to make an object start or stop moving or to change direction. Students explore friction, resistance, and energy as they create models to test and adapt for efficiency of design.
In Life Science students gain experience with the major environmental factors in terrestrial and aquatic systems. Students organize and analyze data from experiments and investigations with plants and animals. Students use scientific thinking processes to conduct investigations and build explanations: observing, communicating, comparing, organizing, and relating. Students observe and describe changes in complex systems over time.