Carolina Biological introduced a new Next Generation Science Standards® (NGSS)-aligned science kit series for educators of elementary students in both formal and informal education settings. Carolina launched Phenomenal Explorations™ kits for grades 3 to 5, which each explore an interesting focus question about a phenomenon that can be completed in two weeks or less. Carolina’s new three-dimensional science kit series turns students into inquiring scientists during short investigations that easily fit into the busy elementary school day or informal settings, such as science clubs, afterschool sessions, or summer camps. The lessons are designed to complement any core science curriculum that teachers are using with concise, high-interest topics to help them explain the most difficult concepts that are challenging to present in an interesting way to students. Each lesson is broken into four student-driven investigations.
Available now, Phenomenal Explorations kit topics cover life science, Earth science, physical science and engineering. Designed for flexibility, educators can use the kits in many ways, such as for a two-week change of pace, after testing, before vacations or afterschool programs, museum programs, kids groups, or even camps to build their students’ hands-on experience, engagement, and excitement. The kit topics include: Why Can a Sloth’s Fur Be a Habitat?; How Can We Keep Pets Cool During Hot Weather?; What Can Fossils Tell Us About Past Environments?; How Do Airplanes Fly?; and How Does Matter Change When an Object Dries? These new kits provide supplemental science resources with hands-on materials and digital components that support teachers who need to fit science lessons into smaller 30-minute time slots and create high-interest engagement for their students. By giving students direct experience with phenomena, the kits help them learn about and make sense of the real world.
The kits support teachers as they teach science to strengthen NGSS three-dimensional connections. Each one emphasizes science and engineering skills within flexible 3D activities. They explore bite-sized topics using a combination of hands-on, print, and digital resources. The investigations challenge students to solve real-world problems and use claims, evidence, and reasoning to support their own explanations of phenomena.
Carolina looked at hard-to-teach topics and chose ideas that are more abstract and difficult for students to understand. Developers found engaging phenomena that students could relate to and get interested in. Using scenarios that are new to students, but based on familiar and age-appropriate examples, the kits inspire students’ natural curiosity and capture their interest. Students drive their own investigations of science phenomena and learn through hands-on investigations.
“Educators of elementary students need creative resources to help connect science phenomena to real-world curiosities that students care about. Carolina’s new Phenomenal Explorations™ provides hands-on curriculum kits that educators can use to engage students, while addressing the new NGSS standards,”” said David Heller, Director of Curriculum Products and Development, at Carolina Biological Supply Company. “Each kit enables educators to guide one rigorous lesson using short, student-driven science investigations with a ready-to-teach set of hands-on materials.”
Carolina’s Phenomenal Explorations hands-on single lesson kits for students in grades 3 to 5 support NGSS innovations of phenomena and three-dimensional learning by integrating literacy and science investigation. The kits include everything needed for 32 students to engage in every lesson with hands-on materials, print, and digital components.
Each kit can begin with an optional pre-assessment activity for teachers to identify what students already know, or they can skip it and go straight to the first activity. Students will engage with a problem or phenomena through literacy and images. Then explore the problem through the engineering process, identifying criteria and constraints along the way to designing a solution, or attempt to make sense of the phenomena by planning and carrying out an investigation. They will develop explanations based on evidence gathered or models designed, developed, and tested. Finally, students make claims based on evidence and reasoning or evaluate design solutions of the class to determine the best designs to solve the problem.
Phenomenal Explorations kits are available in five topics. In How Can We Keep Pets Cool During Hot Weather? Fido is panting and students are challenged to find ways to keep him cool. Students identify the potential problems outdoor pets face during a heatwave and design an outdoor habitat to keep pets cool during hot weather.
Students consider phenomena related to wet objects drying overnight in How Does Matter Change When an Object Dries? They develop initial models and then gather evidence to evaluate the flow of matter under different conditions. Students analyze their data and use the evidence to revise their models.
Students investigate the phenomena of one organism being a habitat for another in Why Can a Sloth’s Fur Be a Habitat? Students develop a model to describe relationships among animals, plants and the environment. They plan and conduct an investigation to gather evidence for the needs of organisms. Students apply what they learn and use evidence to develop a claim to explain why a sloth’s fur can be a habitat.
Teachers help students spread their wings in How Do Airplanes Fly? Students learn the structures of an airplane and then work in pairs to construct a model glider. Pairs test their glider under different conditions and observe how these conditions affect motion during flight.
What Can Fossils Tell Us About Past Environments? has students explore fossil formation and analyze fossil location data through an analysis of fossil shark teeth. Students observe different environments and identify adaptations that sharks have. Students apply what they have learned about sharks and fossils to explain what a past environment may have looked like.
Online for all of the kits at CarolinaScienceOnline.com, educators can access digital resources to facilitate instruction. This includes the Teacher Guide for each lesson in eBook format, printable student investigation sheets, and ready-to-present editable slideshows to use in class to explain each investigation and give students instructions. Educators can show students the slideshows by projecting them to a screen or students can assess these themselves on devices to highlight, circle and make notes. Printable PDF versions of student investigation sheets and teacher sheets are also available.
The Teacher’s Guide includes a pre-assessment, post-assessment, and a scenario-based assessment. At the end of each activity, there are two or three activities for students to make a claim for what they have done. A detailed grading rubric is included to help teachers determine students’ level of understanding. Scenario-based assessments blend science and reading comprehension and relate to the fundamental scientific concepts from the lesson. Students apply their knowledge to answer questions based on a lesson-specific scenario.
Phenomenal Explorations hands-on investigation kits with digital resources are available now, for each grade 3 through 5. Each of the five kits includes a print-format Teacher Guide, a class kit of hands-on materials to supply up to 32 students, and digital access to the Teachers Guide in eBook format, editable instructional slideshow, student assessment rubric and student worksheet PDFs for teachers. Prices start at $94.95 for one kit through Carolina. For information, visit Carolina’s website or https://www.carolina.com/phenomenal-explorations/32002.ct, call (800) 334-5551, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carolina Biological Supply Company
From its beginnings in 1927, Carolina (www.carolina.com) has grown to become the leading supplier of biological and other science teaching materials in the world. Headquartered in Burlington, NC, Carolina serves customers worldwide, including teachers, students, and professionals in science and health-related fields. The company is still privately owned by descendants of the founder, geology and biology professor Dr. Thomas E. Powell Jr.
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