K–3 STEM Foundations — Life Science
Early experiences develop students’ interest and knowledge, and contribute to later success in science-related careers, but many students are behind in STEM areas by third grade. The K–3 STEM Foundations project is developing NGSS-aligned curriculum units for students in grades K–3 that connect science concepts and guided inquiry activities to reading/language arts, as well as health and wellness. Units are appropriate for during class time or after school.
The K–3 STEM Foundations Project is supported by a Science Education Partnership Award from the National Institutes of Health (R25OD021865-01). These resources have been funded, in part, by the Science Education Partnership Program, Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health. They are free for download and use in your classroom.
Living Things and Their Needs
Very young students get the opportunity to explore living and non-living things, and learn about the basic needs of plants, animals and people. (10 activities)
Tillena Lou's Day in the Sun
Tillena Lou and her siblings spend a lazy day imagining what it might be like if they were other types of animals. What would they need to survive?
The Math Link
Students solve addition and subtraction problems; measure ingredients using cups and spoons, measure length; count and sort objects; create graphs; sequence events; and work with patterns.
The Reading Link
Students work with poetry, syllables and counters; patterns; repetition, rhythm, and rhymes; characters, add additional verses; decide if something is fact or fiction; and expand upon the story's ending.
Templates for use with Living Things and Their Needs unit activities. The templates include job badges and a "My Science Journal" worksheet for students, and a word bank for the teacher.
Resources and the Environment
Students explore how living things—including humans—use resources found naturally in their environments, or modify resources to meet their needs. (10 activities).
Tillena Lou's Big Adventure
Tillena Lou becomes lost while while exploring away from her home. Then she gets an unexpected ride into the world of people. What surprises await the tiny turtle?
The Math Link
Students solve addition/subtraction problems; work with division concepts; make estimates; solve problems using symbols; predict outcomes; sort and group items; and work with patterns.
The Reading Link
Students work with rhymes, repetition and rhythm; decide if something is natural or man-made; discern between and fact and fiction; describe characters; act out and add to the story; and answer the question, "What happens next?"
Templates for use with Resources and the Environment unit activities. The templates include job badges, a "My Science Journal" worksheet for students, and a word bank for the teacher.
Students investigate sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch, and discover how the brain and the senses are connected. (9 activities)
Making Sense! is a colorful, engaging picture/storybook that introduces students to the brain and the five senses as they solve mystery picture puzzles.
The Senses Classroom Slides
Students learn about the basic characteristics and structures of the brain and skull; investigate sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch; and discover how the brain and the senses are connected.
Ecosystems are composed of all interacting organisms (biota) along with their physical and chemical environments. Physical aspects of an ecosystem, called abiotic components, include variables related to temperature, sunlight, soil, and other factors.Video Digital Slide Set
Introduction to Animal Behavior
Behavior encompasses anything that an organism does, including its interaction with the environment and with other organisms. Learn how genetic and environmental factors impact animal behavior and actions, both voluntary and involuntary.Video Digital Slide Set
Science Safety in Elementary Schools
This presentation provides key safety information for your science classroom. Although it refers to the Houston Independent School District and State of Texas guidelines, the content is widely applicable.Video Digital Slide Set
The Environment and Human Health
Learn how the environment impacts human health and the ecosystems around us, on both a small/local and large/global scale.Video Digital Slide Set
Needs of Living Things: Pre-assessment
Students take a pre-assessment to help estimate levels of student understanding about the needs of living things.View this lesson Download PDF
Need or Want?
Students learn to distinguish between basic survival “needs” of human beings and things that are not essential for life (“wants”).View this lesson Download PDF
Needs of Plants
Students make mini-gardens and observe the growth and development of radishes.View this lesson Download PDF
Student teams observe a worm model and a live worm, create worm terrariums, and observe worms over time.View this lesson Download PDF
Plant or Animal?
Students explore two major kinds of living things, plants and animals, and compare their needs.View this lesson Download PDF
Food for Kids
Students learn how cooking makes some foods easier to eat by observing uncooked popcorn and cooked popcorn. They also will make a snack (pudding) in class.View this lesson Download PDF
We Need Water
Students make lemonade by mixing lemon juice, sugar and water, and discover that the water they need every day is sometimes in sources other than drinking water.View this lesson Download PDF
Air and Breathing
Students explore breathing and air by blowing bubbles and by observing themselves and others during breathing.View this lesson Download PDF
A Place to Be
Students play a “Concentration” type card game, matching animals with their “places to be.”View this lesson Download PDF
Resources and the Environment: Assessments
Students take an assessment for teachers to evaluate students’ knowledge of the origins of natural and processed resources, and again upon completion of the unit.
Resources and Animals
Students observe, examine, discuss and draw a walking stick insect or a crawfish in its natural environment.View this lesson Download PDF
Is It Natural or Transformed?
Students examine, compare, discuss and sort materials as natural or transformed (changed or processed by humans).View this lesson Download PDF
Raw vs. Processed Food
Students gain an understanding of what “processed” means. They also distinguish between natural and processed foods, and learn about sources of some foods.View this lesson Download PDF
Make a Processed Food
Each student prepares a processed food (frozen banana pop) and eats the product.View this lesson Download PDF
Making a Water Cycle
Students observe a simple model of the water cycle constructed of sand and ice in a plastic shoe box.View this lesson Download PDF
Students simulate activities that can affect a water source, like a river as it flows from one place to another within a community.View this lesson Download PDF
Detecting Air Pollution
Students create model air pollution detectors to sample particles in indoor and outdoor air.View this lesson Download PDF
Where Do Animals Live?
Students draw pictures representing both their favorite nonsense lines from a poem, and animals in more appropriate environments.View this lesson Download PDF
Humans Design Their Homes
Students create models of living spaces (houses) for people in different climates with different available resources; and compare the strengths and weaknesses of the different designs.View this lesson Download PDF
The Brain: Protection
Students learn that the brain is fragile and that it is enclosed by the skull, which protects the brain and forms the shape of the head.View this lesson Download PDF
The Brain: Control Central
Students explore the basic functions and characteristics of the brain and skull, and learn about three major structures in the brain: the cerebrum, cerebellum and brainstem.View this lesson Download PDF
The Brain: Communication
Students discover that their brains receive and act on information from inside and outside the body, and that the senses gather and process different kinds of information.View this lesson Download PDF
Our Sense of Vision
Students make kaleidoscopes to learn that light is essential to vision, and that the brain processes information from the eyes, which are “light detectors."View this lesson Download PDF
Our Sense of Hearing
Students investigate hearing and discover that sensory receptors in the ears collect sound information and transmit it to the brain, and that the effects of sound can be seen using a tuning fork and water.View this lesson Download PDF Digital Slide Set
Our Sense of Taste
Students taste four mystery substances and learn that the tongue is covered with taste buds, which contain taste receptors, and that the brain determines the flavors we experience.View this lesson Download PDF
Our Sense of Smell
Students use four different flavors of dry soft drink mix to investigate the sense of smell, and learn that the nose can detect very small particles in air and transmit the information to the brain.View this lesson Download PDF
Our Sense of Touch
Students explore the sense of touch by identifying mystery objects with their eyes closed and discover that the skin receptors communicate with the brain, which can discriminate among many tactile objects.View this lesson Download PDF
Funded by the following grant(s)
National Institutes of Health: Blueprint for Neuroscience Education, National Institute on Drug Abuse and Science Education Partnership Award program, Office of the Director, Division of Program Coordination, Planning and Strategic Initiatives, Office of Research Infrastructure Programs.
The Learning Brain: Interactive Inquiry for Teachers and Students
Grant Number: RD25DA033006
Filling the Gaps: K-6 Science/Health Education
Grant Number: 5R25RR013454
K–3 STEM Foundations Project
Grant Number: R250D021865-1