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K–3 STEM Foundations — Life Science

K–3 STEM Foundations — Life Science

Early experiences develop students’ interest and knowledge, and contribute to later success in science-related careers, but many students are behind in STEM areas by third grade. The K–3 STEM Foundations project is developing NGSS-aligned curriculum units for students in grades K–3 that connect science concepts and guided inquiry activities to reading/language arts, as well as health and wellness. Units are appropriate for during class time or after school.

The K–3 STEM Foundations Project is supported by a Science Education Partnership Award from the National Institutes of Health (R25OD021865-01). These resources have been funded, in part, by the Science Education Partnership Program, Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health. They are free for download and use in your classroom.

 

Living Things and Their Needs

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Living Things and Their Needs

Very young students get the opportunity to explore living and non-living things, and learn about the basic needs of plants, animals and people. (10 activities)

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Tillena Lou's Day in the Sun

Tillena Lou and her siblings spend a lazy day imagining what it might be like if they were other types of animals. What would they need to survive?

Thumbnail Image for Living Things and Their Needs: The Math Link Worksheets

The Math Link

Students solve addition and subtraction problems; measure ingredients using cups and spoons, measure length; count and sort objects; create graphs; sequence events; and work with patterns.

Thumbnail Image for Living Things and Their Needs: The Reading Link Worksheets

The Reading Link

Students work with poetry, syllables and counters; patterns; repetition, rhythm, and rhymes; characters, add additional verses; decide if something is fact or fiction; and expand upon the story's ending.

Thumbnail Image for Living Things and Their Needs: Templates Worksheets

Templates

Templates for use with Living Things and Their Needs unit activities. The templates include job badges and a "My Science Journal" worksheet for students, and a word bank for the teacher.

Resources and the Environment

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Resources and the Environment

Students explore how living things—including humans—use resources found naturally in their environments, or modify resources to meet their needs. (10 activities).

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Tillena Lou's Big Adventure

Tillena Lou becomes lost while while exploring away from her home. Then she gets an unexpected ride into the world of people. What surprises await the tiny turtle?

Thumbnail Image for Resources and the Environment: The Math Link Worksheets

The Math Link

Students solve addition/subtraction problems; work with division concepts; make estimates; solve problems using symbols; predict outcomes; sort and group items; and work with patterns.

Thumbnail Image for Resources and the Environment: The Reading Link Worksheets

The Reading Link

Students work with rhymes, repetition and rhythm; decide if something is natural or man-made; discern between and fact and fiction; describe characters; act out and add to the story; and answer the question, "What happens next?"

Thumbnail Image for Resources and the Environment: Templates Worksheets

Templates

Templates for use with Resources and the Environment unit activities. The templates include job badges, a "My Science Journal" worksheet for students, and a word bank for the teacher.

The Senses

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The Senses

Students investigate sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch, and discover how the brain and the senses are connected. (9 activities)

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Making Sense!

Making Sense! is a colorful, engaging picture/storybook that introduces students to the brain and the five senses as they solve mystery picture puzzles.

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The Senses Classroom Slides

Students learn about the basic characteristics and structures of the brain and skull; investigate sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch; and discover how the brain and the senses are connected.

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Ecosystems

Ecosystems are composed of all interacting organisms (biota) along with their physical and chemical environments. Physical aspects of an ecosystem, called abiotic components, include variables related to temperature, sunlight, soil, and other factors.

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Introduction to Animal Behavior

Behavior encompasses anything that an organism does, including its interaction with the environment and with other organisms. Learn how genetic and environmental factors impact animal behavior and actions, both voluntary and involuntary.

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Science Safety in Elementary Schools

This presentation provides key safety information for your science classroom. Although it refers to the Houston Independent School District and State of Texas guidelines, the content is widely applicable.

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The Environment and Human Health

Learn how the environment impacts human health and the ecosystems around us, on both a small/local and large/global scale.

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Students apply the skills of estimation, measurement and data analysis as they rotate through six activity stations based on the metric system.

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Individual Lessons: Living Things and Their Needs

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Needs of Living Things: Pre-assessment

Students take a pre-assessment to help estimate levels of student understanding about the needs of living things.

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Need or Want?

Students learn to distinguish between basic survival “needs” of human beings and things that are not essential for life (“wants”).

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Needs of Plants

Students make mini-gardens and observe the growth and development of radishes.

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Animals' Needs

Student teams observe a worm model and a live worm, create worm terrariums, and observe worms over time.

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Plant or Animal?

Students explore two major kinds of living things, plants and animals, and compare their needs.

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Food for Kids

Students learn how cooking makes some foods easier to eat by observing uncooked popcorn and cooked popcorn. They also will make a snack (pudding) in class.

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We Need Water

Students make lemonade by mixing lemon juice, sugar and water, and discover that the water they need every day is sometimes in sources other than drinking water.

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Air and Breathing

Students explore breathing and air by blowing bubbles and by observing themselves and others during breathing.

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Thumbnail Image for A Place to Be

A Place to Be

Students play a “Concentration” type card game, matching animals with their “places to be.”

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Thumbnail Image for Needs of Living Things: Post-assessment

Needs of Living Things: Post-assessment

Students take a post-assessment, then apply concepts learned in this unit by revisiting the pre-assessment, where they originally recorded what they needed to live.

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Individual Lessons: Resources and the Environment

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Resources and the Environment: Assessments

Students take an assessment for teachers to evaluate students’ knowledge of the origins of natural and processed resources, and again upon completion of the unit.

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Resources and Animals

Students observe, examine, discuss and draw a walking stick insect or a crawfish in its natural environment.

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Thumbnail Image for Is It Natural or Transformed?

Is It Natural or Transformed?

Students examine, compare, discuss and sort materials as natural or transformed (changed or processed by humans).

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Raw vs. Processed Food

Students gain an understanding of what “processed” means. They also distinguish between natural and processed foods, and learn about sources of some foods.

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Make a Processed Food

Each student prepares a processed food (frozen banana pop) and eats the product.

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Making a Water Cycle

Students observe a simple model of the water cycle constructed of sand and ice in a plastic shoe box.

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River Ecology

Students simulate activities that can affect a water source, like a river as it flows from one place to another within a community.

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Detecting Air Pollution

Students create model air pollution detectors to sample particles in indoor and outdoor air.

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Where Do Animals Live?

Students draw pictures representing both their favorite nonsense lines from a poem, and animals in more appropriate environments.

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Humans Design Their Homes

Students create models of living spaces (houses) for people in different climates with different available resources; and compare the strengths and weaknesses of the different designs.

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Developing an Object or Tool

Students sequence the process of making an object (tree to chair, mud to brick, etc.), and learn tools and objects are designed to perform a function or solve a problem.

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Individual Lessons: The Senses

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The Brain: Protection

Students learn that the brain is fragile and that it is enclosed by the skull, which protects the brain and forms the shape of the head.

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The Brain: Control Central

Students explore the basic functions and characteristics of the brain and skull, and learn about three major structures in the brain: the cerebrum, cerebellum and brainstem.

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The Brain: Communication

Students discover that their brains receive and act on information from inside and outside the body, and that the senses gather and process different kinds of information.

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Our Sense of Vision

Students make kaleidoscopes to learn that light is essential to vision, and that the brain processes information from the eyes, which are “light detectors."

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Our Sense of Hearing

Students investigate hearing and discover that sensory receptors in the ears collect sound information and transmit it to the brain, and that the effects of sound can be seen using a tuning fork and water. 

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Our Sense of Taste

Students taste four mystery substances and learn that the tongue is covered with taste buds, which contain taste receptors, and that the brain determines the flavors we experience.

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Our Sense of Smell

Students use four different flavors of dry soft drink mix to investigate the sense of smell, and learn that the nose can detect very small particles in air and transmit the information to the brain.

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Our Sense of Touch

Students explore the sense of touch by identifying mystery objects with their eyes closed and discover that the skin receptors communicate with the brain, which can discriminate among many tactile objects.

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Thumbnail Image for Using All the Senses to Understand Our World

Using All the Senses to Understand Our World

Students use all of their senses to understand that there are different types of sensory receptors in the body, and all of them work together to provide information to the brain, which interprets the signals.

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Funded by the following grant(s)

Science Education Partnership Award, NIH

Science Education Partnership Award, NIH

Filling the Gaps: K-6 Science/Health Education
Grant Number: 5R25RR013454

K–3 STEM Foundations Project
Grant Number: R250D021865-1