Building Blocks of Science

Unit Descriptions

Each Building Blocks of Science® unit includes a Teacher’s Guide, eTeacher’s Guide, and Literacy eBook access on Carolina Science Online®, and enough materials for a class of 24 students for kits matching grades K–2, or 30 students in kits matching grades 3–5. The Teacher’s Guide includes objectives and standards, materials preparation steps and class time requirements, background, vocabulary, procedures, assessments, ideas for cross-curricular extensions, and blackline masters for assessment, student procedures, and data sheets.

Select a grade to see what unit kits are available.

GRADE
K
GRADE
K
GRADE
1
GRADE
1
GRADE
2
GRADE
2
GRADE
3
GRADE
3
GRADE
4
GRADE
4
GRADE
5
GRADE
5

Kit Types:

Life Science

Earth/Space Science

Physical Science

K

LIVING THINGS AND THEIR NEEDS

Discovering Plants

Disciplinary Core Ideas:

LS1.C; ESS2.E; ESS3.A–C; ETS1.B

Unit Concepts:

Starting with what kindergartners know about living and non-living things, they explore the needs of living things through pumpkin seed germination and plant growth. They also design investigations to determine which habitat Bess bugs prefer. Students make firsthand observations of how living things can change their environment to meet their needs. By the end of the unit, they apply what they’ve learned about needs to design solutions to reduce human impact on the environment.

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K

WEATHER AND SKY

Weather and Sky

Disciplinary Core Ideas:

PS3.B; ESS2.D; ESS3.B; ETS1.A

Unit Concepts:

It all starts with “What’s the weather today?” Then kindergartners quickly move beyond by keeping records, using Venn diagrams to contrast the daytime and nighttime sky, looking for patterns in their data, and developing thermometer skills. As a final activity, they engineer a way to prevent the sun from warming the earth.

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K

PUSH, PULL, GO

Push, Pull, Go

Disciplinary Core Ideas:

PS2.A–B; PS3.C; ETS1.A

Unit Concepts:

Kindergartners bring their love of building to fun investigations of the forces that move them.  This intro to physics integrates math and measurement as students build swings, tops, and ramps with Kids K’NEX.  By the end of the unit, they apply what they’ve learned, engineering their own motion invention. 

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WARNING: CHOKING HAZARD (1, 4). Not for children under 3 yrs.

1

EXPLORING ORGANISMS

Exploring Organisms

Disciplinary Core Ideas:

LS1.A–B, D; LS3.A–B

Unit Concepts:

First graders start learning about basic needs for survival as they look at themselves, their parents, and at bean plants. They see patterns in how offspring are similar to their parents. Students begin to learn about structure and function by focusing on insects. Finally, they design a solution to a real problem faced by human parents as they raise their offspring.

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1

SKY WATCHERS

Sky Watchers

Disciplinary Core Ideas:

ESS1.A–B

Unit Concepts:

By looking up and studying what they see, students build on their understanding of day and night, seasons, shadow and the moon’s patterns.  In an area often filled with misconceptions, students use their bodies to actively model these systems. In the final activity, they create models to teach a lesson on what we know about the sun, the moon or how both effect the earth.

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1

LIGHT AND SOUND WAVES

LIGHT AND SOUND WAVES

Light and Sound Waves

Disciplinary Core Ideas:

PS4.A–C

Unit Concepts:

First graders begin to learn about waves in the world by exploring the properties of light and sound. At the end of the unit, students are ready to engineer a communication device. They identify the transmitter, the receiver and the code in this transfer of energy - using either light or sound. Then they present it and describe ways to improve it. Engineering in action!

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2

ECOSYSTEM DIVERSITY

Ecosystem Diversity

Disciplinary Core Ideas:

LS2.A; LS4.D; ETS1.B

Unit Concepts:

What do living things need to survive? Seeds are planted, variables are manipulated, and students learn about how organisms survive in different habitats. A dried bee serves as a model to simulate bee behavior with plants. Students build and study a terrestrial and an aquatic habitat, then determine how human impact could be a problem for each of them.  Integrating literacy skills, they create public education campaigns to teach others how their actions could affect habitats.

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2

EARTH MATERIALS

Earth Materials

Disciplinary Core Ideas:

ESS1.C; ESS2.A–C; PS1.A

Unit Concepts:

Water, rocks, sand, soil, wind — put them altogether and you get erosion.  By working with a variety of materials, students engineer designs to slow erosion on sand dunes. They build models of glaciers and canyons to see the effects of water and ice on soil. They also analyze their local soil.  In the concluding activity, students design an island, incorporating water and land forms, then share how erosion will happen in this model.

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2

MATTER

Matter

Disciplinary Core Ideas:

PS1.A–B

Unit Concepts:

Students explore solids, liquids, and gases and their different properties. They investigate changes in state (both physical and chemical) using real world examples.  What happens when you chill or heat coconut oil?  What makes popcorn pop? Matter and energy have never been so tasty!

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3

LIFE IN ECOSYSTEMS

Life in Ecosystems

Disciplinary Core Ideas:

LS1.B; LS2.C–D; LS3.A–B; LS4.A–D

Unit Concepts:

Watch imaginations take flight as students explore ecosystems and how plants and animals adapt. Expanding on what they know about what living things need to survive, students learn about healthy ecosystems with butterfly larva and Wisconsin Fast Plants. They start to look at inheritance and traits as well as adaptation, creating models of different types of beaks to determine what kind of food sources work best for different birds.  Fossils reveal how organisms change over time as the environment changed. By the end of the unit, they apply science concepts to design a new animal.

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3

WEATHER AND CLIMATE PATTERNS

WEATHER AND CLIMATE PATTERNS

Weather and Climate Patterns

Disciplinary Core Ideas:

ESS2.D; ESS3.B

Unit Concepts:

This weather unit takes full advantage of the intersection of  science, literacy, and math. Students calculate average temperatures and measure rainfall, temperature and wind — then create and present a local news weather forecast. They also research natural weather hazards.  By the end of the unit, students formulate a plan to reduce the impact of a weather hazard and design a solution.

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3

FORCES AND INTERACTIONS

FORCES AND INTERACTIONS

Forces and Interactions

Disciplinary Core Ideas:

PS2.A–B

Unit Concepts:

What makes a toy car go?  What makes it stop? This unit looks at forces, with an emphasis on friction, mass and magnetism. It concludes by asking students to complete a design task: a model to sort out scrap metal from trash, a magnetic door latch, a magnet-based device to keep two moving objects from touching each other, or a “magic trick” to make a paper clip float in the air.

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4

PLANT AND ANIMAL STRUCTURES

PLANT AND ANIMAL STRUCTURES

Plant and Animal Structures

Disciplinary Core Ideas:

LS1.A, D; PS4.B

Unit Concepts:

Nothing grabs student interest like dissection, and it’s a great way to learn about structures. This unit begins by expanding what students know about plant and animal structures and how they help organisms survive. They will experience up-close study of the internal and external structures of plants and animals by dissecting seeds and plants, a preserved squid, a sheep brain, and a cow eye. Then they’ll apply this knowledge, creating a model of the eye and explaining the path light takes as the brain helps us see the world.

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4

CHANGING EARTH

Changing Earth

Disciplinary Core Ideas:

ESS1.C; ESS2.A, B, E; ESS3.B; ETS1.B

Unit Concepts:

Building on students’ knowledge of soil and erosion, this unit introduces how the distinctive features of the earth came to be.  The layers of the earth, tectonic plates and the rock cycle add to student understanding of erosion and the systems that make up earth. Stream tables are taken to next level as students create their own maps of their river systems. Where did all that eroded sediment go? Students also build their own sedimentary rock as they learn how deltas form and grow.

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4

ENERGY WORKS!

Energy Works!

Disciplinary Core Ideas:

PS3.A–D; PS4.A, C; ESS3.A; ETS1.A

Unit Concepts:

Focusing on themselves, students review different kinds of energy and how it’s converted in a system: energy their bodies produce, potential and kinetic energy, the motion of waves, plus alternative forms of energy. They engineer a waterwheel, then a wind turbine.  By the end of the unit, they can pose a question they’ve wondered about and engineer a device to answer it.

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WARNING: CHOKING HAZARD (1). Not for children under 3 yrs.

5

MATTER AND ENERGY IN ECOSYSTEMS

MATTER AND ENERGY IN ECOSYSTEMS

Matter and Energy in Ecosystems

Disciplinary Core Ideas:

LS1.C; LS2.A–B; PS3.D; ESS2.A; ESS3.C; ETS1.B

Unit Concepts:

Students begin by focusing on the interdependence of living and nonliving things in an ecosystem.  They make a sun oven to follow the energy transfer of the sun’s energy as it heats up a marshmallow. Then students dissect an owl pellet to see what organisms are consumed for energy at the top of the food chain. They also cultivate a worm tank to see what decomposers do for an ecosystem. By the end of the unit, students analyze the cause and effects of agriculture, fossil fuels, technology, and factories on ecosystems.

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5

EARTH AND SPACE SYSTEMS

EARTH AND SPACE SYSTEMS

Earth and Space Systems

Disciplinary Core Ideas:

ESS1.A–B; ESS2.A, C; ESS3.C; PS2.B

Unit Concepts:

This study of the universe and sun-earth-moon systems naturally integrates math and literacy into hands-on science lessons. Students design scale models, then gather data and express it in bar graphs and circle graphs. As they study water, they calculate the ratio of salt to fresh water on earth. Literacy comes in as students research and report on how systems on earth interact with systems in space.

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5

STRUCTURE AND PROPERTIES OF MATTER

STRUCTURE AND PROPERTIES OF MATTER

Structure and Properties of Matter

Disciplinary Core Ideas:

PS1.A–B

Unit Concepts:

Start laying the groundwork for middle school chemistry with this unit that builds on student understanding of the properties of matter, changes of state, physical and chemical changes, and conservation of matter. By the end of the unit, students apply what they’ve learned to a real world engineering project. They devise a water purification system — a great application of chemistry to a timely problem!

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