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Mount Mansfield Unified Union School District

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We believe the main focus of science instruction has shifted from “learning about” to “figuring out. At the anchor of every science unit, students are exploring puzzling phenomena and observable events in their world that lead them to discover relevant scientific ideas. 

In MMUUSD, students are actively developing their science and engineering practices across units. They are not just constructing understanding of core concepts, they are also developing the habits that all scientists use. These science and engineering practices are lifelong skills that endure inside and beyond school.

  • Investigating puzzling questions about our world through Inquiry
  • Modeling to describe the way things work
  • Communicating ideas supported with evidence
  • Engineering to design solutions to problems

This way of teaching science enables students to:

  • Develop a deeper understanding of science beyond memorizing facts, 
  • Connect science ideas to their everyday life and interests
  • Experience engineering as they plan and test their solutions to problems 

Big Science Questions Explored in Grade 3

Organisms: Traits & Advantages (Life Science)

  • How do organisms grow and develop?
  • How are the characteristics of one generation related to the previous generation?
  • Why do individuals of the same species vary in how they look, function, and behave?
  • What are some advantages for having variations in an organism’s traits?

Organisms and the Changing Environment (Life Science)

  • What happens to ecosystems when the environment changes?
  • How does the environment influence populations of organisms over multiple generations?
  • How do human impact ecosystems?

Weather, Seasons, & Climate (Earth & Space Science)

  • Why is knowing about weather important?
  • How do we predict the weather based on past weather data?
  • How can we use weather data to help us make decisions?
  • What is typical weather in different parts of the world and during different times of the year?
  • How do natural hazards affect individuals and societies?

Forces, Motion, & Magnets (Physical Science)

  • How do forces impact the motion of an object?
  • How do magnets impact the motion of an object?
  • What happens when object collide?

Helping your student learn outside of school

  • Look for everyday opportunities to have your child to ask questions about their world.
  • Help your child make connections between what they are learning in school and everyday life.
  • Point out where you are curious about science in your everyday life.
  • When your child asks a puzzling question, start by responding “what could we do to figure out more about that?”
  • Praise your child when they make an effort and share in the excitement when they solve a problem or understand something for the first time.
  • Read more about supporting your child’s inner-scientist HERE

Questions you can ask your student

  • What do you notice? What do you wonder?
  • How do you think that works? Why do you think that?
  • How is that idea like something else you know about?

Links to Parent Resources

  • How has the Focus of Science Education Changed? [Short article]

Looking back
These ideas are built upon...

How These Ideas Grow
Across the Grades

Looking Forward 
These ideas are next explored

In Grade 1 students explored how offspring look similar to, but not exactly like, their parents Organisms: 
Traits & Advantages
In Grade 7 students explore heredity and genetics
In Kindergarten students explored how organisms get what they need from their habitat Organisms and the 
Changing Environment
In Grade 4 students explore how natural hazards change the landscape over time
In Kindergarten students investigated the effects of weather on communities Weather, Seasons, & Climate In Grade 4 students explore how communities prepare for and respond to natural hazards
In Kindergarten students investigated pushing and pulling objects
Forces, Motion, & Magnets 
In Grade 4 students investigate the relationship between energy and motion