Grade 3

Each unit, available in both print and digital formats, addresses the Next Generation Science Standards and interweaves each element of three-dimensional learning


Forces in Action

The Forces in Action topic encourages students to develop a new understanding of the forces that govern our everyday lives, as well as the design process. During this topic, the children:

  • Discover that a force is a push or a pull. A force is always needed to get something to start to move. 
  • Learn that forces have strength and direction and that friction and gravity are forces.
  • Predict motion of marbles, swings, and tetherballs based on past motion. 
  • Discover that magnets cause a force on some materials and not others and can do this without touching the material. 
  • Design, sketch, and build a magnetic device to solve a problem they think up. 
  • Use balloons and other objects to experience how static electricity causes a force between objects, and that the force between electrically charged objects varies with the distance apart. 


Changing Environments

The Changing Environments topic helps children appreciate that they can learn about the past by closely observing and understanding fossils; that some organisms might not be able to meet their survival needs in certain environments; and what happens to organisms in response to environmental change. During this topic, the children:

  • Observe a mystery object and use their prior knowledge to come up with ideas of what it might be.
  • Discover that fossils are rocks that reveal information about ancient plants, animals, or other organisms.
  • Develop an understanding that some fossils have modern counterparts and some do not, because those organisms have gone extinct. 
  • Obtain information from varied media about how fossils can reveal information about past environments and how the environment has changed.
  • Consider how various behaviors, including social behaviors, and physical traits help organisms meet their survival needs. 
  • Consider why some organisms might not be able to meet their survival needs in certain environments.
  • Explore what happens to organisms in response to environmental change.
  • Compare the benefits and drawbacks of different solutions, and real-world constraints such as costs, as they recommend solutions to a community.


Patterns in Life Cycles

The Patterns in Life Cycles topic builds on children’s natural curiosity about life’s diversity as they discover that birth, growth and development, reproduction, aging, and death are the basic elements of a life cycle. During this topic, the children:

  • Learn about the life stages shared by all living organisms: birth, growth, reproduction, and death.
  • Discover that the details of each life cycle vary from organism to organism.
  • Observe the complete life cycle of pea plants in the classroom.
  • Examine a wide variety of flowers and learn how flowers grow into fruits and seeds.
  • Observe the entire life cycle of Painted Lady butterflies in the classroom.


Inheritance and Variation

The Inheritance and Variation topic encourages children to develop a new understanding of the phenomena and processes that govern the characteristics and features of living things and impact their ability to survive in their habitat. During this topic, the children:

  • Look carefully at dogs to understand what a trait is and how traits can have variations within the same kind of organism. 
  • Observe and describe the similarities and differences between parent animals and plants and their offspring to learn that organisms inherit traits from their parents. 
  • Read about the environmental influences on traits and use that information to identify the differences in offspring they observe.
  • Read case studies about flamingos, frogs, and snowshoe hares and then use those to support a claim that the environment can affect animals’ traits. 
  • Look at how variation in traits of frogs and mice affect their ability to survive in their habitats. 
  • Create bar graphs to analyze data about frogs. 
  • Play a game where they act as predators to understand how variation in color affects survival.


Weather and Climate

The Weather and Climate topic encourages children to explore new ways to look at the weather and climate that affects their lives.  Weather’s dynamic and unpredictable character gives children insight into the wonderful complexity of nature. During this topic, the children:

  • Observe, analyze, and describe scenes of various weather conditions. 
  • Locate places that have ideal weather conditions for an activity. 
  • Build and use tools to collect weather data. 
  • Create and compare graphs of weather measurement data and identify patterns in that data. 
  • Create a weather map of the United States.
  • Explore severe weather such as hurricanes and tornadoes. 
  • Interpret graphs and observe scenes in nature to classify climate zones. 
  • Observe tree rings to describe climatic conditions over a historic period.