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"High-quality elementary science education is essential for establishing a sound foundation of learning in later grades, instilling a wonder of and enthusiasm for science that lasts a lifetime, and in addressing the critical need for a well-informed citizenry and society." National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). 2018. NSTA Position Statement on Elementary School Science. Arlington, VA: NSTA.


Tolland Public Schools recognizes the importance of elementary school science education, and embraces the Next Generation Science Standards. The NGSS is organized into grade level Performance Expectations that weave Disciplinary Core Ideas (content), Science and Engineering Practices (skills), and Cross-cutting Concepts (overarching scientific principles) together, requiring teachers to facilitate students' learning of science by allowing them to "do" science. Each grade's Performance Expectations are organized into three units, each with an anchoring phenomenon that engages and excites students to learn scientific concepts and employ scientific and engineering practices in order to fully explain the phenomenon or meet a design challenge. Concepts and practices learned in elementary school set the stage for greater complexity and challenge in grades to come. 

In Kindergarten, students begin their study of the world around them, how it affects them and how they affect it.
Unit 1- Weather- Students explore different types of weather and the effect it has on their lives. This unit continues throughout the year as they record the types of weather they see everyday, and how it changes with the seasons. This unit also interweaves with the other units as they consider the effects of weather on living things, and how wind applies force to objects.
Unit 2- Mystery Class Pet- Through investigations, students explore what plants and animals need to survive, all while preparing for a mystery class pet to join them. Once the students learn what the class pet will be, they use their learning to develop a care guide for their pet. 
Unit 3- Push, Pull, Play- Students explore forces and collisions through observing and investigating while playing. Students consider the effects of stronger and weaker forces on objects in the classroom and on the playground, as well as the directions of forces. They also explore collisions and ultimately seek to model and explain the forces involved in different play activities.  

In grade 1, students are asked to develop models to begin explaining phenomena, and apply their understandings to design objects or solutions.
Unit 1- Patterns of Sun and Moon- Students are engaged by tracing their shadow at three different times of day and observing how it changes. Throughout the unit students investigate the types of shadows produced by different objects, how mirrors and prisms affect light, begin to understand what causes moon phases, and consider how light changes with the seasons.
Unit 2- Communicating with Light and Sound- Students are engaged by watching and listening to a clip of Mickey's Steamroller, and considering how they can or cannot understand what is happening by only seeing or only hearing the clip. Students then investigate what causes sound, and the types of sounds they hear around their school. They also consider how light is important for sight, and how it can be used for communication. The unit culminates with students designing their own sound track for a new video clip. 
Unit 3- Learning From Nature Through Our Senses- Students build on learning from kindergarten and begin to consider how plant and animal parts help them meet their needs for survival. Through investigations and texts, students learn about plant and animal parts, and determine what role each part plays in helping the plant or animal survive. The unit culminates with students considering how plant and animal parts can be inspiring to engineers as they design solutions for human problems. 
 
In grade 2, students learn about engineers and the design process, and how they work to solve problems.
Unit 1- Matter and It's Interactions- Students are engaged in a design challenge- the story of the "fourth pig" who needs to build a home to withstand the Wolf. Students investigate materials and their properties, how combining materials can lead to new properties, and how choosing the correct materials for a particular use can be key in the success of a design. They will apply their learning to designing and building a house for the fourth pig, and then testing it to see if it can withstand the elements. 
Unit 2- Beavers, Nature's Engineers- Students study beavers to understand how they survive and their role in the environment. They study how and why beavers construct their dams, how they are similar and different to human homes and dams, and how their presence can drastically change an environment and what lives there. 
Unit 3- Ecosystem Dynamics- Students build on their learning from grade 1, and begin to understand how plants and animals are equipped to survive in their environments. Students explore different environments, including examples from around Birch Grove. They also consider how relationships between plants and animals help them survive, specifically studying pollination and seed dispersal.

For further details and information about the NGSS, see the links below.
NGSS K-12 Performance Expectations- Organized by grade level and core ideas
Science and Engineering Practices Learning Progressions- details about each of the 8 practices, as well as how these important skills are expected to develop during the course of a student's K-12 education.
Cross-cutting Concept Learning Progressions
- details how students develop an understanding of these key scientific principles across disciplines during the course of a student's K-12 education.


Mark Ruede
Curriculum Supervisor of Science
mruede@tolland.k12.ct.us