Grade 3 Science

Within the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), there are three distinct and equally important dimensions to learning science. These dimensions are combined to form each standard—or performance expectation—and each dimension works with the other two to help students build a cohesive understanding of science over time.

We Are Scientists!

Unit Sketch

"We are Scientists!" is the first part of the NGSS launch. During the first weeks students learn about what scientists do and what tools, practices, and processes they use to develop explanations related to natural phenomena. They launch their Science Notebooks and use them to collect and analyze data from various observational activities and/or investigations. The focus is on observing and asking questions as well as trying one or more scientific practices to explore their scientific question.

Enduring Understandings:

Students will understand...

  • Science is a way of knowing. Its purpose is to explain the natural (and material world. Is it both a set of practices and the historical accumulation of knowledge.
  • Science involves wondering, investigating, questioning, data collecting and analyzing.
  • Scientists use a variety of tools and practices to answer questions about the world and its phenomena.
  • The scientific process is not linear. It is an ongoing process that may include one or more of these practices:

1. Asking questions

2. Developing and using models

3. Planning and carrying out investigations

4. Analyzing and interpreting data

5. Using mathematics and computational thinking

6. Constructing explanations

7. Engaging in argument from evidence

8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

Skills:

Students will be able to...

  • reflect on what science is and what scientists do
  • participate in and reflect on a "nature of science" activity
  • design and use a science notebook
  • apply scientific tools and practices throughout a 5E instructional sequence
  • reflect on "doing science"

"I Can Statements":

I can describe what science is and what scientists do.

I can describe ways in which scientists work.

I can tell the difference between an observation and an inference.

I can identify tools that a scientist uses.

I can set up and explain the purpose of a science notebook.

I can participate in whole-group and small-group scientific activities that reflect the 5Es.

We Are Engineers!

Unit Sketch

Students learn about what engineers do and what tools, practices, and processes they use to design solutions to problems. Students launch their Engineering & Design Notebooks and use the Design Process to participate in an Engineering Challenge.

Enduring Understandings:

Students will understand...

  • Engineering begins with a problem.
  • Engineers use a variety of tools and methods to solve problems through a design process.
  • An engineer's design process includes these steps: Define the Problem, Do Research, Develop a Possible Solution, Design and Build a Prototype of the Solution, Test, Evaluate the Design Solution.
  • Engineers test solutions multiple times before succeeding at designing a solution that solves a problem.

Skills:

Students will be able to...

  • identify what engineering is and what it isn't
  • apply engineering tools and practices (the design process)
  • reflect on "doing engineering" via an engineering challenge

Inheritance and Variation of Traits

Unit Sketch

In this unit of study, students engage in explorations related to life cycles and inherited traits. Using multiple life cycle stage pictures, students build the life cycles of various plants and animals, looking for patterns, and use the models to explain the components and relationships between pictures. From this initial exploration,

Enduring Understandings:

Students will understand...

  • Patterns of change can be used to make predictions.
  • Similarities and differences in patterns can be used to sort, classify, communicate and analyze simple rates of change for natural phenomena and designed products.
  • Cause and effect relationships are routinely identified, tested, and used to explain change.

Skills:

Students will be able to...

  • Develop and/or use models to describe and/or predict phenomena.
  • Analyze and interpret data to make sense of phenomena, using logical reasoning, mathematics, and/or computation.
  • Use evidence (e.g., measurements, observations, patterns) to construct or support an explanation or design a solution to a problem.
  • Science findings are based on recognizing patterns.

Weather and Climate

Unit Sketch

Students will learn about weather related pattern in various locations around the world. They will study the relationship between weather and location and weather and seasons (climate). Students will make a claim about the merit of a design solution for a weather related hazard.

Enduring Understandings:

Students will understand...

  • The difference between weather and climate.
  • The relationship between weather and location.
  • Patters that can be seen in climates.
  • Humans make modifications to structures to protect themselves from weather related hazards.

Skills:

Students will be able to...

  • ask questions related to weather conditions in different seasons and different places, looking for patterns
  • collect and display quantitative weather data (temperature, wind direction, rain), noticing seasonal patterns
  • analyze weather data from two seasons to find causal relationships (location causing weather; seasons causing weather)
  • represent data in tables and graphical displays
  • use graphical displays to describe and predict typical weather conditions during a particular season
  • ask questions related to world climates, looking for patterns
  • analyze climate data from particular world locations to find causal relationships (location causing climate patterns)
  • construct explanations from climate data about particular world locations
  • engage in argument from evidence related to climate in particular world locations
  • define human problems related to weather-related hazards
  • design multiple solutions to weather-related hazards
  • make a claim about the merit of a design solution that reduces the impact of weather-related hazards

Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems

Unit Sketch

An understanding that organisms have different inherited traits, and that the environment can also affect the traits that an organism develops, is acquired by students at this level. In addition, students are able to construct an explanation using evidence for how the variations in characteristics among individuals of the same species may provide advantages in surviving, finding mates, and reproducing. Students are expected to develop an understanding of types of organisms that lived long ago and also about the nature of their environments.

Third graders are expected to develop an understanding of the idea that when the environment changes some organisms survive and reproduce, some move to new locations, some move into the transformed environment, and some die.

Enduring Understandings:

Students will understand...

  • Cause and effect relationships are routinely identified, tested, and used to explain change.
  • Natural objects and/or observable phenomena exist from the very small to the immensely large or from very short to very long time periods.
  • A system can be described in terms of its components and their interactions.
  • Science assumes consistent patterns in natural systems.

Skills:

Students will be able to...

  • Analyze and interpret data from fossils to provide evidence of the organisms and the environments in which they lived long ago.
  • Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular habitat some organisms can survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.
  • Construct an argument that some animals form groups that help members survive.
  • Make a claim about the merit of a solution to a problem caused when the environment changes and the types of plants and animals that live there may change.

Forces and Interactions

Unit Sketch

Students are able to determine the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces on the motion of an object and the cause and effect relationships of electric or magnetic interactions between two objects not in contact with each other. They are then able to apply their understanding of magnetic interactions to define a simple design problem that can be solved with magnets.

Enduring Understandings:

Students will understand...

  • Patterns of change can be used to make predictions.
  • Cause and effect relationships are routinely identified, tested, and used to explain change.
  • Science and technology support each other.

Skills:

Students will be able to...

  • Ask questions that can be investigated and predict reasonable outcomes based on patterns such as cause and effect relationships.
  • Define a simple design problem that can be solved through the development of an object, tool, process, or system and includes several criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
  • Plan and conduct an investigation collaboratively to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence, using fair tests in which variables are controlled and the number of trials considered.
  • Make observations and/or measurements to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence for an explanation of a phenomenon or test a design solution.
  • Science investigations use a variety of methods, tools, and techniques.
  • Science findings are based on recognizing patterns.