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Kindergarten Science & Engineering

Course Description

In kindergarten, students learn to observe and describe natural phenomena to look for patterns. Students study how designers create and test solutions. They begin to develop an understanding of structure and function in the built environment and the natural world. 

Grade Level(s): Kindergarten

Related Priority Standards (State &/or National):  K-5 Science Missouri Learning Standards & Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Essential Questions

  • How do we learn about the world around us?
  • How do we design solutions to problems?
  • How can I learn about something I wonder about or solve a problem that is important/interesting to me?
  • What is engineering?
  • How do people design solutions to problems?
  • What kinds of patterns exist in the natural world?
  • How can I use my understanding of patterns and cause/effect relationships to design solutions to problems?
  • How can understanding cause/effect relationships be used to design solutions to problems?
  • Why do things move the way they do?
  • How can we take action to reduce our impact on our surroundings?
  • How do different parts of a system interact with each other?

Enduring Understandings/Big Ideas

  • Learning about the world and solving problems begins with wonder, observations and questions.
  • Science is both a body of knowledge that can be learned and a process of discovery of the natural world.
  • Students understand that engineering is the process of identifying problems and using scientific knowledge to design solutions.
  • Learning about and engaging in the practice of science and engineering requires curiosity, hard work, and persistence.
  • People’s needs and wants change over time, as do their demands for new and improved technologies.
  • Engineers improve existing technologies or develop new ones to increase their benefits, decrease known risks, and meet societal demands.
  • Patterns in the natural world can be observed, used to describe phenomena, and used as evidence.
  • Events have causes that generate observable patterns.
  • Events in nature have causes.
  • Simple tests can be designed to gather evidence about and identify cause/effect relationships.
  • Forces cause a change in motion. Different strengths and directions of forces will cause different changes in motion.
  • Patterns in the natural and human-designed world can be observed and used as evidence.
  • Systems in the natural and designed world have parts that work together.

Course-Level Scope & Sequence (Units &/or Skills)

Unit 1: Weather and Seasons

This unit also spans the school year, with students keeping journals of temperature, weather conditions, and seasonal changes in plants and animals. Students will periodically use their observations to make graphical/ pictorial representations and make predictions about future conditions and events. Students will also learn about severe weather and the purpose of weather forecasting and preparation.  Students will:

  • Make observations (firsthand or from media) to collect data that can be used to make comparisons.
  • Use observations (firsthand or from media) to describe patterns in the natural world in order to answer scientific questions.
  • Use tools and materials provided to design and build a device that solves a specific problem or a solution to a specific problem
  • Read grade-appropriate texts and/or use media to obtain scientific information to describe patterns in the natural world.
  • Understand there are patterns in temperature, weather conditions, and seasonal changes.
  • Use their understanding of patterns to make predictions and explain why things happen.

Unit 2: Exploring Design

Students discover the design process and how engineers influence their lives. They explore structure and function by identifying products around them designed by engineers, asking questions engineers might ask as they design products, and determining the structure and function of items. Working in small groups, students design, build, and test a structure from available materials to withstand a force. Students apply newly acquired knowledge and skills as they utilize the design process to design, sketch, build, test, and reflect on new tool designs - a paint brush and a device to reduce the warming effects of the sun on an area.  Students will:

  • Ask questions based on observations to find more information about the natural and/or designed world(s).
  • Define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.
  • Develop a simple model based on evidence to represent a proposed object or tool.
  • Analyze data from tests of an object or tool to determine if it works as intended.

Unit 3: Pushes & Pulls

In this unit, students will study the relationship between the forces acting on an object and the type of motion it exhibits (speeding up, slowing down, or turning). At the end of the unit, students will use their understanding of forces and motion to solve an engineering problem (for example, design a tool or device that will cause an object to move a specific distance).  Students will:

  • Plan and conduct an investigation in collaboration with peers (with adult guidance).
  • Analyze data from tests of an object or tool to determine if it works as intended.
  • Plan and conduct an investigation to compare the effects of different strengths or different directions of pushes and pulls on the
    motion of an object.
  • Analyze data to determine if a design solution works as intended to change the speed or direction of an object with a push or pull.
  • Use their knowledge of force and motion to solve a design problem (i.e. designing a device that will cause a particular type of motion).

Unit 4: Animals & Algorithms

Through this exploration of both storytelling and animation, students are presented with the problem of arranging moving images and sounds to depict a story. Students learn that computers need specific instructions written in a language that the computer can understand.  The programming environment in which students create these stories is appropriate for emerging readers and offers an appropriately scaffolded environment for piecing together logical steps to produce an animation.  Students will:

  • Develop an understanding of events as triggers that make computer programs carry out instructions.
  • Combine fundamental ideas in computer science with story-building skills from language arts to create animations that show characters, settings, actions, and events in a short story of their own creation.

Unit 5:  Plants & Animals

In this unit, students will investigate the needs of plants and animals (including humans). Students will observe the impact plants and animals have on the places they live, including human impact on their surroundings.  Patterns will be identified in these needs in order to discern relationships between the needs of plants and animals and the places they live.  Students will:

  • Use a model to represent relationships in the natural world.
  • Use observations (firsthand or from media) to describe patterns in the natural world in order to answer scientific questions.
  • Construct an argument with evidence to support a claim
  • Understand that animals and plants rely on each other and their environment to survive.
  • Describe patterns they have observed of what plants and animals need to survive.
  • Use a model to represent the relationship between the needs of plants and animals and the places they live.
  • Construct an argument with evidence to support a claim.
  • Communicate solutions with others in oral and/or written forms using models and/or drawings that provide detail about scientific ideas.
  • Identify examples of changes caused to the environment by plants and animals (including humans).
  • Understand there are cause/effect relationships between the actions of plants and animals and changes in the environment in which they live.
  • Communicate solutions that will reduce the impact of humans on the land, water, air, and/or other living things in the local environment.
  • Devise and execute a plan, working with a group and with teacher support, to reduce the impact they have on their surroundings. For example, recording the amount of trash left in the cafeteria, posting signs and making an announcement asking people to clean up, then observing the effectiveness of their actions.

Course Resources & Materials: PLTW LaunchBrainPop Jr, and various district-created resources to support instruction

Date Last Revised/Approved: 2015