Menu of Lessons
Menu of lessons available to Mentor Teachers for Step 1 students.
Math Inquiry Lessons
Algebraic Reasoning - GEMS resource
Activity 1: The Fabulous Function Machine
Students are introduced to Professor Arbegla and her amazing machine. They suggest numbers (and later geometric shapes) to go into the machine, and then analyze what comes out. Students learn to look for patterns as a key strategy to decode the "secret rule" the machine is following for each new function. Students are introduced to the use of T-tables to organize the data, as well as the use of variables to write algebraic expressions for the computational operations the machine is performing. Students begin to build skills, strategies, and tools that will help them do algebra.
Activity 2: Malfunctions in the Function Machine
Professor Arbegla's invention appears to be acting up. She sends a letter to your class, describing the problem (the same number that goes in, comes out) and asking your students for assistance. The malfunction introduces the class to the identity element for addition and / or multiplication. Students may also discover other computational operations, in which a number goes into the machine and comes out the same. After the lcas has solved this problem, a second letter arrives from the professor, describing a new malfunction this time, no matter what the number goes into the machine, the number seven comes out.
Activity 3: The Morph Machine
Students are introduced to a new two-step machine that you, yourself have created. When students put numbers into the Morph Machine, the numbers go into the "transformer chamber" and a series of operations are applied on them. Then you put the resulting "morphed" numbers into the machine's "restorer chamber" and -- "magically" -- are able to determine the original numbers what went in. The magic is the use of inverse operations, or simplifying an algebraic expression.
Activity 4: Professor LaBarge Scales
The use of a scale provides the context to solve equations for one or more variables. In this model, the scale represents an equation and the weights represent number and / or variables. In the first session, students are introduced to the scale itself, given some of the weights on the scale, and asked to find the values of the unknown weights. They sue variables to express these equations algebraically. In the second session they are given more equations to balance -- some with a single solution and others with an infinite set of solutions.
Activity 5: The Distributive Property
Another letter arrives from Professor Arbegla. This time there is no problem to solve. Instead, the professor shares her great multiplication discovery, known in mathematics as the distributive property or law of operation. In Session 1, students are introduced to the distributive property of addition, and have opportunities to apply it to problems. At the end of the first session, students use algebra to generalize this property. In Session 2, students discover that there is also a distributive property of subtraction, and learn to write its algebraic expression. Finally, they apply what they have learned about both distributive properties as they solve a variety of problems.
Activity 6: Algebra in Action
Students explore the area and perimeter functions for rectangles. In the first session, they are introduced to the commutative property of multiplication as they investigate a room with an area of 36 square feet and see the impact of length and width on the room's size. In the second session, students create a standard unit of measure, a square foot. Using that unit, the class concretely measures and maps to scale the length and width of an enclosure with an area of 36 square feet, to see its actual size. Using string, they measure the perimeter of the rectangle, and distinguish between the area and perimeter measurements. In the final session, students solve area problems with variables to find an unknown in the equation -- the length, width, or area.
In all probability - GEMS resource
Activity 1: Penny Investigations
Penny Investigations has five class sessions. It sets the stage and provides students with foundational tools for the entire unit. Pennies provide the springboard into the investigations and the context for collecting ,organizing, discussing, and interpreting data. Students conduct the Penny Flip experiment to generate and record data, and to interpret results. The concept of fairness and vocabulary related to probability are introduced and defined. Scales for graphing are discussed and students critically examine graphs from newspapers and advertisements. Embedded in the activities are opportunities for computational practice.
Activity 2: Spin to Win
Spin to Win consists of three class sessions involving probability experiments with "fair" and "unfair" spinners to make the moves in two Track Meet races. Students gather data, analyze the data, and make conjectures about fairness based on the data. The spinners also provide a context for understanding fractional parts of a whole. Student understanding is deepened through classroom discourse and questioning strategies to probe and encourage student explanations of reasoning.
Activity 3: Horse Racing
Horse Racing has three class sessions involving dice. Teachers choose the first experiment -- ether the Horse Race or the Roll ALL Six game. With either, students roll one standard die and analyze the outcomes for many rolls. Then the students play the Double Dice Derby game with two dice and keep track of the winners of the races on a class graph. At home, they race the horses to gather more data and report the wins of the class graph. The class graph is also represented as a line graph to provide a different way of looking at data. Using a Keeping Track chart, students record all possible sums for two dice in an organized way to better understand the results of the race. The theoretical probability for the the outcome of two dice is also considered.
Activity 4: Games Sticks
Games Sticks introduces students to a version of a native American games of chance. After creating their own set of sticks with colorful designs, students sue the sticks to play the lively game. Then students conduct an experiment to analyze the outcomes (combinations of plain and design sides) of the sticks. The class pools their results to get a better picture of the frequency of each outcome. Finally, they use the sticks to determine all the variation (permutations) for each outcome. The variations are connected to the theoretical probability of their occurrence.
Measurement - Second Edition FOSS Kit - Grades 3-4
Measurement, the process of quantifying observations, is one of the cornerstones of science. Measurement compares nature--the unknown--to a standard unit--the known. Through such comparison, the organization of the world becomes more comprehensive. The FOSS Measurement module consists of four investigations, each designed to emphasize a particular type of metric measurement--length, mass, temperature, and volume.
- Activity 1: The First Straw
- Activity 2: Weight Watching
- Activity 3: Take Me to Your Liter
- Activity 4: The Third Degree
Variables - Second Edition FOSS Kit - Grades 5-6
Some of the most important scientific concepts students learn are the result of their ability to see relationships between objects and events. Relationships always involve interactions, dependencies, and cause and effect. The Variables Module has four investigations that help students discover relationships through controlled experimentation. Students will fling, float, fly, and flip objects as they discover relationships in each investigation.
- Activity 1: Swingers
- Activity 2: Lifeboats
- Activity 3: Plane Sense
- Activity 4: Flippers
Science Inquiry Lessons
Earth and Sun - Next Generation FOSS Kit - Grade 5
The Earth and Sun Module focuses on Earth and the Sun as a system. Students collect and analyze shadow data. They observe the changes in the Moon's appearance over time. Then students explore the properties of the atmosphere, energy transfer from the Sun to Earth, and water cycling in Earth's atmosphere.
- Investigation 1: Sun and Earth
- Investigation 2: Planetary Systems
- Investigation 3: Earth's Atmosphere
- Investigation 4: Heating Earth
- Investigation 5: Water Planet
Electromagnetic Force - Next Generation FOSS Kit - Grades 6-8
In the FOSS Electromagnetic Force Course, students manipulate equipment to collect data about magnetic fields and electricity. They construct explanations based on observable patterns and develop models that define the cause-and-effect relationships of the forces and interactions they are measuring. The culmination of the course leads students to consider accessible energy sources and the reliance of modern lifestyles on access to this energy, as well as the consequences of such energy use. Students leave this course with an understanding of force and energy that forms a solid foundation for high school and college physics.
- Investigation 1: What Is Force?
- Investigation 2: The Force of Magnetism
- Investigation 3: Electromagnetism
- Investigation 4: Energy Transfer
Energy - Next Generation FOSS Kit - Grade 4
Students explore the concepts of energy and change, waves, and energy transfer in the Energy Module. They experience electricity and magnetism as related effects and learn useful applications of electromagnetism in everyday life. They also consider energy transfer, force, and motion in different systems.
- Investigation 1: Energy and Circuits
- Investigation 2: The Force of Magnetism
- Investigation 3: Electromagnets
- Investigation 4: Energy Transfers
- Investigation 5: Waves
Environments - Second Edition FOSS Kit - Grade 4
All living things depend on the conditions in their environment The study of relationships between one organism and its environment builds knowledge of all organisms. With this knowledge comes an awareness of limits. Changes in an environment can be hard on organisms. Such knowledge is important because humans can change environments. This Module consists of six investigations that introduce students to these basic concepts in environmental science.
- Investigation 1: Environmental Factors
- Investigation 2: Ecosystems
- Investigation 3: Brine Shrimp Hatching
- Investigation 4: Range of Tolerance
Mixtures and Solutions - Next Generation FOSS Kit - Grade 5
The Mixtures and Solutions Module has five investigations that introduce students to fundamental ideas about matter and its interactions. Students come to know that matter is made of particles too small to be seen and develop the understanding that matter is conserved when it changes state, when it dissolves in another substance, and when it is part of a chemical reaction. Students have experiences with mixtures, solutions of different concentrations, and reactions forming new substances. They also engage in engineering experiences with separation of materials. Students gain experiences that will contribute to the understanding of crosscutting concepts of patterns; causes and effect; scale, proportion, and quantity; systems and system models; and energy and matter.
- Investigation 1: Separating Mixtures
- Investigation 2: Developing Models
- Investigation 3: Concentration
- Investigation 4: Reaching Saturation
- Investigation 5: Fizz Quiz
Motion and Matter - Next Generation FOSS Kit - Grade 3
This Module provides grade 3 students with physical sciences core ideas dealing with forces and interactions, matter and its interactions, and with engineering design. Magnetism and gravity are the forces students explore as they look for patterns of motion to predict future motion. Students work with magnets and paper clips, wheel and axle systems, paper air twirlers, and rotating tops. Students use their knowledge of science to enter the engineering design process and through the process refine their science understanding.
- Investigation 1: Forces
- Investigation 2: Patterns of Motion
- Investigation 3: Engineering
- Investigation 4: Mixtures
Soils, Rocks and Landforms - Next Generation FOSS Kit - Grade 4
Geology is the study of our planet's earth materials and natural resources. Because they are so ubiquitous and abundant, they are often taken for granted. The Soils, Rocks, and Landforms Module provides students with firsthand experiences with soils and rocks and modeling experiences using tools such as topographic maps and stream tables to study changes to rocks and landforms at Earth's surface.
- Investigation 1: Soils and Weathering
- Investigation 2: Landforms
- Investigation 3: Mapping Earth's Surface
- Investigation 4: Natural Resources
Structures of Life - Next Generation FOSS Kit - Grade 3
The Structures of Life Module consists of investigations dealing with the big ideas in life science.
- Investigation 1: Origin of Seeds
- Investigation 2: Growing Further
- Investigation 3: Meet the Crayfish
- Investigation 4: Human Body
Terrarium Habitats - GEMS resource
- Activity 1: Exploring Soil
- Activity 2: Building a Terrarium Habitat
- Activity 3: Adding Earthworms to the Terrarium
- Activity 4: Adding Isopods to the Terrarium
- Activity 5: Adding More to the Terrarium
Waves - Next Generation FOSS Kit - Grade 6-8
The Waves Course proceeds from the most concrete observations, those of physical properties of mechanical waves, to the most abstract concepts, by which students develop a model of electromagnetic waves. They manipulate springs and lasers to determine properties that eventually will be used to explain how their cell phones work. Students leave this course with a greater appreciation and understanding of modern communications technology and a solid foundation for high school and college physics.
- Investigation 1: Make Waves
- Investigation 2: Wave Energy
- Investigation 3: Light Waves
- Investigation 4: Communication Waves
Engineering and Maker Lessons
A Stick in the Mud: Evaluating a Landscape
The storybook that anchors this unit, Suman Crosses the Karnali River, takes students to Nepal, where people rely on innovative cable bridges called TarPuls to cross flooded rivers during monsoon season. Digging into the role of geotechnical engineers, students must select a safe, flood-proof, and erosion-proof location for a new TarPul. Working with a model riverbank, they study soil properties, examine maps to assess the potential for erosion at different sites along the river, and factor in the villagers' preferences for a TarPul location.
The Arduino Starter Kit provides an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It contains all of the essential components required to start programming with the Arduino uno board, and a guidebook featuring 15 different projects, which are designed to evolve users from Beginner to professional level. Learn more about Arduino on their website.
Go Green: Engineering Recycled Racers
India and Jacob visit Senegal, where they are impressed by the way people recycle items that would ordinarily be discarded by turning them into toys, sculptures, and household objects. Your kids will use recycled materials to engineer their own toy cars, then compete in a Recycled Racer Rally.
Hop to It: Safe Removal of Invasive Species
Oh no! India and Jacob accidentally brought a cane toad from Australia to New Zealand. Cane toads are pests. They are an invasive species that hurts native species in Australia and they could do the same in New Zealand. Kids will help India and Jacob engineer a humane trap to catch the toad.
Liftoff: Engineering Rockets and Rovers
Jacob is at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory learning how to engineer rovers that can be used to explore faraway worlds. Meanwhile, India is learning about the trade-offs and variables involved in engineering a rocket as she blasts off to the International Space Station. Kids will engineer rockets and rovers to help India and Jacob explore several planets and moons in our solar system.
Makey Makey: An Invention Kit for Everyone
Turn the whole world into a keyboard! It is a simple invention kit for beginners or experts doing art, engineering, and everything in between. Check out the Makey Makey website for examples on how to bring inventing into your classroom.
Shake Things Up: Engineering Earthquake-Resistant Buildings - Engineering is Elementary
A huge and very destructive earthquake hit Haiti in 2010. Now Jacob and India are there, learning how to support and protect buildings during earthquakes. Your kids will engineer model buildings that are earthquake resistant. They will also develop building codes that help others build earthquake resistant structures.
To Get to the Other Side: Designing Bridges - Engineering is Elementary
When civil engineers design bridges, they must take into account factors like balance and motion. This unit introduces the principles behind bridge design with the storybook Javier Builds a Bridge, about a boy who needs a safe footbridge to get to his island play fort. Students will reinforce their understanding of push and pull as they explore how forces act on different structures. They will use what they know about balance and force as they experiment with beam, arch, and suspension bridges--and learn how bridge designs counteract and redirect forces and motion. In the final design challenge, students plan, build, and test their own bridges.
Agricultural Sciences Lessons
Caring for the Land - Grades 3-5
Students will explain why people have different opinions regarding soil management and identify cause and effect relationships relating to agriculture and the environment.
Eggology - Grades 3-5
Students will identify how the basic needs of a growing chick are met during egg incubation. Activities include identifying and diagramming the parts of an egg and hatching eggs in class.
- Activity 1: Egg Anatomy
- Activity 2: Air Transfer
- Activity 3: Charting Temperature and Humidity - Hatching Eggs
Flower Power - Grades 3-5
Students will observe physical characteristics of flowers and explore principles of pollination.
- Activity 1: Flower Dissection
- Activity 2: Origami Flower Model
- Activity 3: The Bee Dance
Growing Plants in Science and Literature, More Than an Empty Pot - Grades 3-4
Students will use the story of The Empty Pot to explore literature and science, practicing story mapping and learning about the needs of plants and the importance of soil and water. Like the characters in the story, students will plant and observe the growth of seeds.
- Activity 1: Mapping the Story of The Empty Pot
- Activity 2: Science Journal
How Does Your Garden Grow? - Grades 3-5
Students synthesize what they know about soils, plants, and the environment to plan a garden, present their plans, and explain why they made the decisions that they did.
Keeping Soil in Its Place - Grades 3-5
Students will be able to demonstrate rain drop splash (splash erosion) and determine its impact on bare soil, ultimately being able to visually identify types of erosion.
- Activity 1: Splash Zone
- Activity 2: Soils on the Move
- Activity 3: Methods for Controlling Soil Erosion
Overfishing and Aquaculture - Grades 3-5
Students will discover the sources of various fish and seafood, compare wild-caught and farm-raised aquaculture systems, and use a simulation to learn how overfishing can damage the ocean ecosystem.
- Activity 1: Sourcing Fish and Seafood
- Activity 2: The Lifespan of Overfishing
- Activity 3: Public Awareness Campaign
Properties of Soils - Grades 3-5
Students will discover that different soils have different characteristics, examine different types of soil, investigate soil components, and observe how air space allows soils to hold and transmit water.
- Activity 1: Properties of Soil
- Investigation 1: Looking at Soil Samples
- Investigation 2: Soil and Air Space
- Activity 1: Properties of Soil
Secrets to Healthy Soils - Grades 3-5
Students will understand that the diversity of life in soil contributes to soil fertility.
- Activity 1: The Living Soil
- Activity 2: What Nutrients are in my Soil?
Sun, to Moo, to You! - Grades 3-5
Students will investigate the transfer of energy in the process of making milk. Students will understand that there are different forms of energy, that living things need energy to survive, and that the primary source of energy is the sun.
The Rotten Truth - Grades 3-5
Students will observe and explain the decomposition process and learn the methods and ingredients for making compost.
- Activity 1: Decay and Decomposition
- Activity 2: Containers and Layers for Composting
Types by Texture - Grades 3-5
Students will learn about soil texture and determine the texture of several soil samples.
- Activity 1: Dirt Shake
- Activity 2: Soil Textures By Feel
Wad-a-Watershed - Grades 3-5
Students will be able to understand the basic geography of a watershed, how water flows through the system, and how people can impact the quality of our water.
Water Supply - Grades 3-5
Students will observe and understand that water changes state as it moves through the water cycle.
- Activity 1: Changing States
- Activity 2: Water Cycle
- Activity 3: The Earth's Water Supply
What's in Soil? - Grades 3-5
Students will identify the components of soil and demonstrate that soil contains air and water.
- Activity 1: Soil Inventory
- Activity 2: Soil Moisture
- Activity 3: Soil Air