Curriculum & Instruction
Investigations is a focused and coherent K-5 curriculum, which was intentionally designed and sequenced to promote a deep understanding of mathematics. The curriculum units at each grade level represent a cohesive whole. Each successive unit builds on the previous unit both within and across strands and across grades. The geometry and measurement, data, and patterns and functions units focus on foundational mathematical ideas and practices and also support work in the number and operations units. By teaching theInvestigations curriculum as written, teachers enable students to go deeply into mathematical practices and content.
Six major goals guided the development of Investigations. The curriculum is designed to:
- Support students to make sense of mathematics and learn that they can be mathematical thinkers
- Focus on computational fluency with whole numbers as a major goal of the elementary grades
- Provide substantive work in important areas of mathematics—rational numbers, geometry, measurement, data, and early algebra—and connections among them
- Emphasize reasoning about mathematical ideas
- Communicate mathematics content and pedagogy to teachers
- Engage the range of learners in understanding mathematics.
Mathematics in Context is a comprehensive middle school mathematics curriculum primarily used in grades 6-8. Development of the curriculum was funded in part by the National Science Foundation. The pedagogy and mathematical content of the program are consistent with both the Common Core State Standards and the Principles and Standards for School Mathematics published by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). The units are organized by strand: Number, Geometry and Measurement, Algebra, and Data Analysis and Probability. The rich mathematics in MiC is developed using realistic contexts to engage and motivate students, and the mathematical models help insure retention by using various modes of representation.
With funding from the National Science Foundation, the Core-Plus Mathematics Project (CPMP) has developed, field-tested, and evaluated a major updating and revision of its texts for college-preparatory high school mathematics. Core-Plus Mathematics 2nd edition builds on the strengths of the first edition that was cited as Exemplary by the U.S. Department of Education.
Key features of the curriculum materials include:
- integrated development of fundamental concepts and skills in algebra and functions, geometry and trigonometry, statistics and probability, and discrete mathematics.
- student-centered investigations of important mathematics, in the context of realistic problems and applications, leading to a robust understanding of mathematical concepts, principles, and techniques and productive habits of mind.
- impressive new technology tools to enhance learning, teaching, and problem solving across the mathematics curriculum.
DE DOE site: www.doe.k12.de.us/science
Students will use observation skills to compare different trees and their structures throughout the seasons. Students will begin to construct understanding of the characteristics and life cycles of trees and how that makes them similar to other living things and different from non-living things. This unit emphasizes the development of observation and communication skills by requiring students to use their senses and build explanations based on their findings (Foss kit).
Push, Pull, Go
This unit introduces kindergarten students to Energy Concepts while integrating science, technology, engineering, and math. Students will build swings and slides using K’nex (Carolina Biological Unit).
Wood & Paper
Through observing and comparing different kinds of wood, students will investigate properties of materials and how physical properties can be changed. Some of the investigations in this unit include: sinking of wood in water by adding paperclips, using sandpaper to change the shape of wood, and using the resulting pieces to make particleboard (Foss Kit).
Weather and Me
Students will discover that weather affects daily activities. Through observing the weather features around them and using tools to measure these features, students will learn that weather can be predicted. Some of the weather features that will be observed and measure include: wind speed, temperature, and precipitation (STC).
Catching the Wind
This unit is designed to have students think like mechanical engineers as they use what they have learned about wind to create machines to capture wind energy. In Lesson 1, students are introduced to what mechanical engineers do through the storybook, “Leif Catches the Wind.” Next, students will observe and analyze the moving parts of common machines. By Lesson 3, students are experimenting with sails made of different materials and shapes and understanding how they “catch the wind.” Finally students are planning, creating, and testing their own windmills (EIE*) (New unit added and is to be taught in conjunction with Weather and Me).
Solids and Liquids
The goal of this unit is for students to be able to compare and contrast solids and liquids. Students start with observing, describing, and experimenting with a group of solid objects. Some of the tests performed include: floating/sinking, attraction to magnets, and describing physical characteristics of color, shape, texture, and hardness. Next, students investigate liquids and focus their tests on comparing how the liquids look and feel, their fluidity, how they mix with water, and how they can be absorbed. Finally, students compare and contrast solids and liquids (STC).
In this unit, students will investigate how living things are alike and different by taking care of a number of different plants and animals. For example, most living things are alike in that they need basic things for survival (water, energy, oxygen). However, some living things get their energy from sunlight (plants) and some eat other living things for energy (animals eat plants and/or other animals). Students will also learn that specific needs of organisms differ (type of water they live in, temperature, and type of food they eat) (STC).
In this unit, students study different components of soil (sand, clay, and humus) and the effects on plant growth. Students test and observe different properties of soil and the effects on root growth and plant growth. In addition, students create a compost bag and read and observe how earthworms can change the soil (through decomposition) and its effects on plant growth (STC).
Balance and Weighing
This unit introduces students to the relationship between balance and weight. Experiences with a beam balance introduce students to the concept that amount of weight, position of weight, and position of the fulcrum affect balance. Work with an equal-arm balance challenges students to place objects in serial order on the basis of weight and to appreciate that weighing is the process of balancing an object against a certain number of standard objects. In the final lessons, students turn to a series of problem-solving investigations with the equal-arm balance and cupfuls of four different foods. These activities provide an opportunity to explore the relationship between weight, density, and volume (STC). (Will be phased out and Bridges will take the place of this kit).
Students will explore the reasons for different shapes of bridges and learn how bridge designs counteract and redirect forces and motion. Students will apply their knowledge gained to plan, construct, and test their own bridges (EIE*)
This unit provides investigations that allow students to observe the structures and behaviors of different insects and experience the different life sequences of insects. Students will compare the stages that insects go through in their life cycle. Students will be providing the basic needs for the insects (shelter, food, water, light, and air) as they learn the basic vocabulary of insect life (FOSS KIT).
This unit consists of four investigations in which the students learn about different parts of the human body (skeletons, joints, muscles, and stimulus response). Students learn how the brain is the part of the body that sends and receives signals from other parts in order to help the whole body function (FOSS KIT).
This unit consists of four investigations in which students learn about the twelve most common rocks and minerals on the Earth. Students learn that rocks are composed of ingredients called minerals, and minerals are the same throughout. Students conduct tests on minerals and rocks and classify them according to properties of color, hardness, and chemical reactions (FOSS KIT).
This unit consists of four investigations in which students discover their understanding while testing different properties of water. Students learn that water can change from a solid to a liquid to a gas, depending on the temperature. They will learn that water shapes the surface of the Earth and it moves differently through different types of earth materials. In addition, students will learn how water is a basic need of most living things and the importance of conserving and recycling water (FOSS KIT).
Water, Water, Everywhere
This unit is designed to help students think like environmental engineers as they focus on how water is contaminated and the problem of providing safe drinking water. Students will plan, construct, test, and improve their own water filters (EIE*) (New unit to be taught in conjunction with Water Foss Kit).
Structures of Life
In this unit, students will observe and work with living organisms to explore structures that function to help conduct life processes such as growing, getting energy, breathing, moving, and reproducing. Some of the living organisms that students work with and observe include: crayfish, land snails, and plants (FOSS KIT).
Through observations, students will compare and contrast the sky during the day and night, learn about Earth’s rotation and revolution, seasons, moon phases , and the effects of the sun on Earth (BBOS). (New kit to be added)
Magnetism and Electricity
In this unit, students will explore using materials to create a series and parallel circuit. They will work with different materials classifying them according to their ability to transfer electricity and heat (conductors and insulators). They will study the property of magnetism. And finally, they will use this knowledge to design a telegraph (FOSS KIT)
This unit helps students to apply their knowledge of electricity, circuits, conductors, and insulators as they design and construct their own alarm circuits. The science concepts of electricity/energy transfer, conductors and insulators, and complete and incomplete circuits are reinforced and students are also introduced to schematic diagrams, a symbol “language” that electrical engineers use to plan and design circuits.
Through lessons and the unit’s storybook, which takes place on a station (ranch) in the Australian outback, students embark on an electricity scavenger hunt, practice drawing schematic diagrams from circuits, and finally design, create, and improve their own alarm circuits and switches to remind them when it is time to do an important chore (EIE*)
Land and Water
Students use a stream table to observe how the flow of water can change the shape of land through erosion and deposition. Students create land formations such as hills, plateaus, and valleys, and study how they can affect the flow of water. Through observing and manipulating these models, students connect these to real life examples of land and water on Earth (STC).
In this unit, students understand the web of relationships that links organisms to one another and to their natural environments. By constructing, observing, discussing, and reading about both land and water ecosystems in this unit, students develop a growing sensitivity to living things and what they need to survive. Students learn that organisms in ecosystems have dependent and independent relationships and that natural and human-made events can disturb an ecosystem. They also learn that people bring different perspectives to environmental issues and that they can work together to develop solutions. (STC – Ecosystems)
Students act as environmental engineers as they study the components of an ecosystem, methods for cleaning oil spills, and the impact oil spills have on an ecosystem. Students will use their knowledge gained to plan, design, test, and make improvements on their own method for cleaning an oil spill. (EIE*). (New kit to be taught in conjunction with Ecosystems).
Mixtures & Solutions
Students investigate properties of mixtures and solutions, dissolving a solid in a solvent, concentration and saturation of a solution, evidence of reactions, evaporation, and crystal formation. Students gain experience with laboratory tools and techniques (FOSS KIT).
Motion & Design
This unit allows students the opportunity to explore the physics of motion and to apply concepts to technological design. Using K’NEX, students design a simple car and investigate how the car moves when pulled by a drop weight system, when carrying a load of a given mass, and when propelled by a rubber band. Next, students investigate friction and car design and how each affects motion. Tire tread and a sail (air resistance) are investigated as design features. Motion of the vehicle when driven by a propeller system is examined. Lastly using engineering problem solving, students engage in ways to meet design specifications (STC).
My Body and Me
This unit is split into two parts. Part A (Studying People Scientifically) centers around the elements of good experimental design. Students learn that a valid investigation includes a control, variables, precise measurement, clear procedures, accurate records of data, and can be replicated. They also learn that technology enhances the quality, accuracy, speed, and analysis of data gathered. Investigations focus around clinical trials. Part B (Body Works) studies how the digestive, respiratory, and circulatory systems work together to sustain life. There is a large emphasis of the structures of each system and their functions. Another focus of Part B is that the health of organisms is influenced by many internal and external factors. Voluntary choices can reduce individual’s risk for heart disease. Technology advances in medicine and improvements in hygiene has helped in the prevention and treatment of illness (SEPUP).
Forces that Cause Motion
Students investigate the speed of buggie cars to explore constant and non-constant speeds. They represent their data using dot trails, bar graphs, and line graphs. Then they learn about Forces that act on objects such as gravity, air resistance, support force, and more. The changes in motion depend upon the size and direction of the total unbalanced force exerted on the object. When the forces acting on the object are balanced, its motion will not change (DOE).
Students learn that simple machines make difficult tasks easier. Through hands on experiments with both levers and pulleys, students collect data to support the notion that less effort is needed to lift an object when the energy used is spread over a longer distance (DOE).
Students construct series and parallel circuits. They learn that electrical energy is a form of energy that can be transferred by moving charges through a complete circuit. Through a presentation called “Chucky the Charge,” students explore how charges move differently through series versus parallel circuits, causing different levels of energy to be delivered to its devices (DOE).
Using the Grand Canyon as the prime example, students learn how the processes of weathering, erosion, and deposition change Earth’s surface over time. They also phantom the notion that the processes that change the surface today are the same processes that occurred in the past, a theory that is called uniformitarianism. Students also infer the environments in which sandstone, limestone, and shale rock layers were formed, giving them a chance to see how observations of the present provide clues to the Earth’s past. “The present is the key to the past” is a major theme as scientists use the rock layers in the Grand Canyon as a geolgic timeline. Fossils, earth’s geologic time, and continental drift are also covered (FOSS).
Diversity of Life:
Our planet is unique in that it supports the existence of life. But what does “life” mean? In this unit, students are engaged through a variety of investigations to discover what defines life on our planet. Microscopic techniques, basic microbiology, and thought provoking examinations of the diversity of living things on our planet serve as a hook to generate student interest in all life forms on Earth (FOSS KIT).
Our Genes Ourselves:
The study of genetics and heredity is the theme of this kit. What can be a complex topic is made developmentally appropriate and understandable to students by appealing to a variety of learning styles and interests. The unit opens with simple activities that compare human traits, and gradually builds in complexity. Mendelian Genetics, Punnet Squares, and even DNA technologies are covered in the Genetics Unit (SEPUP).
Properties of Matter
The Properties of Matter Unit introduces students to basic materials science through a heavy load of high interest hands-on activities. Lab investigations include understanding concepts such as density, solubility, and the behavior of different materials under different environmental conditions. The concept of the particle model is taught within this unit. The relationship between the increase or decrease of energy in a substance and its behavior is emphasized.
This unit lends itself to developing a stronger grasp of experimental design. Students are encouraged to develop and test their own hypotheses to find out why materials behave under certain conditions (STC).
Our world as we know it is dependent upon a clean source of water to support life. The Watersheds Unit builds upon science kits taught in Primary grades to go further in depth in the understanding of why and how water is important. The relationship between land use and water quality is emphasized and students are involved in direct chemical testing of water samples to analyze their ability to support life. Students compare varieties of habitats and make inferences about the health of the water based upon their topography, existing life, chemical samples, and surrounding land use. Students discover that humans have the power to keep water clean and ultimately are shown how to be able to do this on their own and in their own community (DOE).
Transformation of Energy
This unit is designed to start year with topics that will be revisited throughout the entire eighth grade year. Students will carry out investigations using golf balls and ramps to explore Gravitational Potential Energy and Kinetic Energy and what affects these types of energy. Throughout this part of the unit, students will identify energy transfers and transformations and construct energy chains to show the flow of energy. Students will also discover through dropping golf balls on different surfaces that different materials transfer energy at different rates. Next, students will progress into the topic of heat energy and conduct activities on the definition of heat energy and the three ways heat energy can be transferred: conduction, convection, and radiation. Finally, the unit ends with investigation of energy carried by waves, mechanical waves and electromagnetic waves (DOE).
Weather and Climate
The big idea covered in this unit is the effect of the Sun’s energy on weather systems. Students will collect weather data over a period of time and discover relationships between temperature, dew point, humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed and direction, and cloud types. They will use these patterns discovered to explain the existing weather and predict weather over the short term. Students will examine weather maps including fronts and pressure systems to explain current conditions of the weather and make predictions for the future. Students will also compare and contrast weather and climate (DOE).
Students will learn through the use of models that most objects orbit the Sun in an orderly manner. Students will use observation skills and models to demonstrate that there are observable, predictable patterns of movement in the Sun, Earth, and Moon system that account for day/night, moon phases, seasons, tides, and eclipses (DOE).
Students will start the unit by examining how science is different from other disciplines. Next students will be reading numerous newspaper articles from different perspectives on the controversy surrounding the population of the horseshoe crab in Delaware. They will use this model to help understand the interconnectedness of organisms in a community and will continuously revisit the question, “Is the horseshoe crab population declining and if so what can we do about it?” Students then learn a variety of population sampling techniques and complete simulation activities to explore the effects of limiting factors on populations. Next, adaptations of organisms are studied as students use models of different animals to creatively relate to the interaction of structure and function. The unit ends with food webs and the flow of energy (DOE)
Energy Across Systems
Virtually all changes that take place in the physical world involve an energy exchange. Everything from cellular growth to weather patterns to the shifting of the tectonic plates is accompanied by, and arguably, driven by the flow of energy. Cellular phones, iPods, medical diagnostic tools and most other popular electronic devices of today rely on information transfer through energy transfers. On a different scale, Americans and citizens of countries throughout the world are faced with the challenge of providing adequate energy to meet the society’s needs without jeopardizing the health of our planet. The basic premise of this unit is that understanding the properties of the different forms of energy and how energy flows through systems enables us to better understand natural systems and helps us design and improve man-made systems.
The central goal of this unit is to prepare students to use energy methods to analyze physical problems. To accomplish this, students will learn more about energy forms and how energy is transferred throughout a variety of systems. Through a series of investigations the students learn that the energy of an object can be calculated and equations are developed to facilitate these calculations. While energy is important enough to be studied as a separate topic, this unit was designed to support and even enhance the students’ experiences in subsequent science units (DOE).
Living By Chemistry-Alchemy (Lab Aids)
Earth Systems (DOE)
Science and Global Issues
This unit helps students understand key biology concepts as they investigate ways in which science and sustainability are related. Sustainable development is one of the most critical issues of our time and requires analysis that takes into account personal, societal, and global perspectives. Understanding the scientific concepts behind some of the major challenges of the 21st century is a prerequisite to informed decision making. Developing scientific literacy in all students involves having students apply this understanding to complex issues that have no simple solutions.
The units in this course look at topics such as human impact on ecosystems, world health, genetically modified organisms, and biodiversity. Students are challenged to reason scientifically while applying their understanding of concepts in ecology, cell biology, genetics, and evolution. Each unit immerses the students in an issue that provides a realistic context that relates science to sustainability. Students ultimately propose a course of action in the scenario developed in each unit, citing scientific evidence to support their proposal and addressing the trade-offs associated with the suggested course of action.
Eleventh Grade (coming soon)
Natural Approach to Chemistry (Lab Aids-Tom Hsu)
STEM Physics (under development –Ergopedia/Hsu
Twelfth Grade (Coming Soon)
STEM Physics (under development-Ergopedia/Hsu)
For more information on kits:
STC and Carolina Biological Unit: http://www.carolina.com