2013 Physical Science Curriculum

Chill Out

Fourth Graders review the concept of disease prevention via vaccinations and follow the Engineering and Design Process as they explore the roles of conductors and insulators in heat transfer.  Students design, build, test, evaluate and redesign model vaccine coolers.


Water Desalination- Survivor Style

Clean drinkable water is a necessity for life on this planet.  Although the entire earth is surrounded by water, only 3% is fresh water.  Students will be challenged with the task of developing and building a portable filtration and desalination device that purifies “dirty”, salty water and makes the water safe for drinking.  Using multiple labs and activities, students will explore the physical properties of matter including phases of matter and solubility. Students will explore “water” in many capacities, they will need to understand the structure of water and how depending on the environment around it, it can change shape, size, and other factors. While water itself is important for our survival and for us to understand, it is also important to understand the types of things that can impact water.


Solar Ovens

Students will be learning about conduction, convection, and radiation through inquiry based labs and guided instruction. Students will also revisit previous topics learned such as changes of energy forms, the electromagnetic spectrum, and reflection of light. Students will use knowledge of science concepts to build a thermos. They will redesign to make a solar oven as a final project.


Ecuadorian Fishermen

A group that works with small businesses in Ecuador has discovered that some of the Ecuadorian fishermen need help. These fishermen take their small boats over to the Easternmost Galapagos Island (San Cristobal), which has many unusual and tasty fish. They need to bring ice with them in a cooler that will stay cold long enough to bring the fish back unspoiled. Once back to their fish markets in Ecuador, the fishermen need a small cooker to cook the fish in so they can be sold for the greatest profit. This curriculum is presented to take place over two years, but can be taught as one large unit. 

Rocket Powered Delivery SySTEM

Read this to your students: “Zip lines have become popular activities for adventurers. First used in China as a transportation method between mountain villages, zip lines can now be found at many vacation spots including amusement parks. You have been hired by Valley Fair to design a rocket-powered delivery sySTEM to move a single rider from a starting position to an ending point. Customers have been complaining that it takes too long to walk from the exit for Power Tower to the line for Steel Venom. Valley Fair has already strung a 130 foot wire cable from a platform at one ride to a platform at the other. Typically zip lines use gravity to move riders from the start to the finish of the zip line, but Valley Fair has installed a horizontal line and now needs you to come up with a rocket-powered delivery system. A rocket-powered zip line will not only make lines more efficient, but it will also be a great marketing tool for Valley Fair! You will need to understand how to harness changes in the states of matter to power your rocket.”


Keep it Cool!

Fourth grade students are introduced to the concept of heat transfer and complete an engineering design challenge.  Students will explore the concept of heat transfer by comparing wood and metal, then plastic and metal.  They will also explore the idea of slowing heat transfer (insulating) by observing how different materials keep a can of pop cool.  Finally students will use what they have learned to complete an engineering design challenge in teams.  Our client for the engineering design challenge is the main character of the book, Beatrice’s Goat, a young Ugandan girl who gets a goat from the Heifer Project International.  Students will slow heat transfer by creating a cooler that will keep milk cold for Beatrice who is raising money for school fees by selling goat’s milk.  Beatrice needs to keep the milk cool so it doesn’t spoil before her customers buy it.  Students will measure the starting milk temperature and again after 30 minutes using a digital thermometer.  Students will record results in a table and then display in a bar graph.  After informal sharing of results, students will redesign their cooler.  After testing their second design, they will create a formal presentation of all of their results.