Here are the units third grade scientists will be doing over the course of the year:
Balancing Forces: Investigating Floating Trains. Scientists and engineers have figured out a way to build a train that actually floats on air as it goes cruising down the track at high speeds. Students work to explain how this train works in order to reassure residents of a town that the train is safe. Students figure out ideas about magnetic force, gravity, and how forces can cause an object’s movement to change or stay stable. They communicate their ideas by making digital and physical models and by writing explanations.
Environments and Survival: Snails, Robots, and Biomimicry. Students play the role of biomimicry engineers studying a population of snails. They analyze data to figure out why some organisms are more likely to survive in their environment. They think about the systems made of organisms and the environment in which the organisms live to understand how the environment affects organisms’ likelihood of survival. Students apply what they learn about the structure and function of animals’ body parts to plan, make, and test designs that solve problems, such as a robot that can remove and grind up invasive plants.
Weather and Climate: Establishing an Orangutan Reserve. In the role of meteorologists, students investigate weather and climate patterns in order to make scientific arguments about where to establish an orangutan reserve. They use mathematical thinking to find patterns in weather data, and consider scale, proportion, and quantity as they learn to make reliable measurements of weather. They also define and work to solve an engineering problem related to natural hazards.