Science Education

 1st Grade  *   Swift Creek Elementary  *   Wake County Public Schools  *

Program Overview

In first grade, we teach 4 science modules per year.  Each module is designed to last one quarter in length and approximately 17 lessons in depth. All of the modules meet the Standard Course of Study for first grade science skills in North Carolina.    The first grade modules are:

 -Pebbles, Sand and  Silt (Earth Science)

-Solids and Liquids (Physical Science)

-Balance and Motion (Physical Science)

-Living Organisms (Life Science)

 All of these modules are hands-on, inquiry based science units that not only teach science content, but also encorporate the process thinking skills (observing, communicating, comparing, measuring, describing), that are necessary in the 21st century.  Students work and learn in cooperative groups and pairs to conduct scientific investigations and use a science notebook to record their observations, test results, and other individual work on record sheets collected during the lessons.   

 Each science module is based on a four-stage learning cycle that is grounded in education research and practice.

 1) Students FOCUS on what they already know about the topic.

 2) They EXPLORE a scientific phenomenon or concept, following a well-structured sequence of classroom investigations.

 3) They APPLY their learning to real-life situations and to other areas of the curriculum.

 4) Finally, students REFLECT on their observations, record them in science notebooks, draw conclusions, and share their findings with others.

 Science Goals K-5

 Pebbles, Sand and Silt

The Pebbles, Sand, and Silt module consists of four sequential investigations, each designed to introduce concepts in earth science. The investigations provide experiences that heighten students’ awareness of rocks as earth materials and natural resources. They will come to know rocks by many names and in a variety of sizes. Pebbles and sand are the same material—just different in size.

FOSS expects students to:

  • Develop a curiosity and interest in the physical world around them.
  • Observe, describe, and sort earth materials based on properties.
  • Separate earth materials by size, using different techniques.
  • Observe the similarities and differences in the materials in a river rock mixture: silt, sand, gravel, and small and large pebbles.
  • Explore places where earth materials are found and ways earth materials are used.
  • Compare the ingredients in different soils.
  • Organize and communicate observations through drawing and writing.
  • Acquire the vocabulary associated with earth materials.


Solids and Liquids

 Students investigate the similarities and differences in a variety of common solids and liquids. First, they observe, describe, and compare a collection of solid objects, focusing on such properties as color, shape, texture, and hardness. They also perform tests to determine whether the objects roll or stack and float or sink, as well as whether they are attracted to a magnet. Investigations of liquids center on how various liquids look and feel, their fluidity, how they mix with water, and their degree of absorption. In a final lesson, students compare the properties of solids and liquids and identify how they are similar and different.

Solids & Liquids Science Unit


 Balance and Motion

We live in a dynamic world where everything is in motion, or so it seems. But not everything is moving the same way. Some things move from one place to another. Other things go around and around in a rotational motion. Still other things are stationary, stable for a time, balanced on a thin line between stop and go. These are the global phenomena that students experience in this module, Balance and Motion.

FOSS expects students to:

 Develop a growing curiosity and interest in the motion of objects.

  • Investigate materials constructively during free exploration and in a guided discovery mode.
  • Solve problems through trial and error.
  • Develop persistence in tackling a problem.
  • Explore concepts of balance, counterweight, and stability.
  • Observe systems that are unstable and modify them to reach equilibrium.
  • Discover different ways to produce rotational motion.
  • Construct and observe toys that spin.
  • Explore and describe some of the variables that influence the spinning of objects.
  • Observe and compare rolling systems with different-sized wheels.
  • Explore and describe the motion of rolling spheres.
  • Acquire the vocabulary associated with balance and motion.


Living Organisms

This hands-on experiences that help students develop an understanding of and sensitivity to living things. Students create and maintain a woodland habitat containing pine seedlings, moss, pill bugs, and Bess beetles or millipedes. They also set up and observe a freshwater habitat into which they introduce elodea and cabomba plants, pond snails, and guppies. With both plants and animals in each habitat, students have the opportunity to observe how these organisms coexist. Through studying the needs and characteristics of a variety of organisms, the students are able to draw conclusions about how plants and animals are similar and different. In a final lesson, students apply to humans what they have learned about organisms, exploring how human beings are similar to and different from other living things.