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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. 

At 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 5

Ecosystems: The Movement of Energy & Matter (Life Science)

  • How do organisms obtain and use the energy they need to live and grow?
  • How do organisms interact with the living and nonliving environments to obtain energy?
  • How does matter move through an ecosystem?

Earth Systems: Interacting Spheres (Earth & Space Science)

  • How do the properties and movements of water shape Earth’s surface and affect its systems?
  • How do Earth’s major systems  interact to affect the Earth’s surface materials and processes?
  • How do humans change the planet?
  • How do engineers solve problems of human impact on the environment?

Space: Earth, Sun, and Moon (Coming Soon…) (Earth & Space Science)

  • What are the predictable patterns caused by Earth’s movement in the solar system?
  • How is life on Earth impacted by gravity?

Matter: Particles, Properties, & Changes (Physical Science)

  • How do particles react in different states of matter?
  • What  properties can we use to describe matter?
  • How  do we decide if something is a chemical or physical change?

Helping your student learn outside of school

  • Look for opportunities that encourage 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 how your curiosity about science has impacted your life
  • When your child asks a puzzling question, start by responding “What could we do to find out more about...”
  • 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?

Looking back
These ideas are built upon...

How These Ideas Grow
Across the Grades

Looking Forward 
These ideas are next explored

In Grade 3 students investigated the relationship between organisms and their environment
The Movement of Energy & Matter


In Grade 7 students further develop this cycle of matter and energy in ecosystems

In Grade 3 students investigated the ways environments have changed

Earth Systems:

Interacting Spheres

In Grade 7 students analyze the interdependence of populations and their environments

In Grade 2 students investigated selecting materials based on their properties and purpose


Earth, Sun & Moon

In Grade 6 students develop models for patterns in the solar system and seasons

In Grade 2 students investigated selecting materials based on their properties and purpose
Particles, Properties, & Changes 
In Grade 8 students investigate the relationship between changes in energy and matter