Trees and Forests
Students learn about trees as individual plants and as part of a forest ecosystem. By examining local species, they learn to recognize the characteristics of different trees and develop skill in describing and interpreting the structural features of trees. As part of their studies, students learn about a broad range of living things found on, under and around trees and study the complex interaction between trees and the larger environment. In examining human use of forests, they become aware of a broad range of environmental issues and develop an awareness of the need for responsible use.
Students learn about objects in the day and night sky. Through direct observation and research, students learn about the motions and characteristics of stars, moons and planets. Using simple materials, such as balls and beads, students create models and diagrams which they use to explore the relative position and motion of objects in space. As a result of these studies, students move from a simple view of land and sky, to one that recognizes Earth as a sphere in motion within a larger universe. With new understanding, students revisit the topics of seasonal cycles, phases of the Moon and the apparent motion of stars.
Evidence and Investigation
Students sharpen their skills in observing and interpreting what they see by investigating evidence of human and animal activity. They explore and analyze indoor and outdoor environments as they look for footprints, markings, evidence of disturbance and things that are left behind. Through these studies, students learn to pose questions, devise investigations, recognize patterns and discrepancies, and think logically about what they have observed.
Air and Aerodynamics
Students explore the characteristics of air and the interaction between moving air and solids. They learn that air is a compressible fluid, that it is composed of many gases, and that moving air can support solid materials in sustained flight. By studying birds and airplanes, they learn a variety of adaptations and designs that make flight possible and that provide for propulsion and control.
Students apply their knowledge of aerodynamics to design, build and test a variety of flying devices. In constructing models, students develop a basic design, then build it, test it, and solve the problems that inevitably arise. Through teamwork they learn that planning, communication, cooperation and flexibility are important to the overall result, even though parts of a task can be worked on individually. In the process, students learn about the parts of an aircraft, their role in controlled flight and the differences between aircraft and spacecraft.