Grades 2-(3) Course Description

Biology, Physics and the International Space Station

By grade two, many students have already had introductory exposure to ecosystems, life cycles, living organisms and their needs, and pushes and pulls (i.e., physics). We bring these topics within the life sciences, planetary science and physical science together to explore important science concepts, including: adaptation, gravity/micro-gravity, form and function, etc. The unifying concepts of system and change provide students with a lens through which to observe, experiment and communicate their learning.

This carefully woven academic year-long curriculum asks fundamental questions about natural and engineered adaptation, when student botanists undertake their training to become mission specialists on board the International Space Station. 

The students investigate questions, including:

  • What do mission specialists do aboard the International Space Station? 
  • What is gravity? 
  • What are the impacts of micro-gravity on the human body's heart and circulatory system and on human sleep rhythms? 
  • What are some of the major differences between growing plants on earth and in space?
  • What is the impact of micro-gravity on plant root and stem growth? 
  • How do changes in light impact a plant's growth (including an introduction to the electromagnetic spectrum)?
  • What designed adaptations can be made to foster plant root and stem growth under differing atmospheric conditions?

Areas and concepts to be investigated include: botany (plant anatomy; form and function, including an introduction to photosynthesis, tropism; and the role of plants in atmospheric recycling); physics through force and motion, gravitational/micro-gravitational pull and its impacts.

Students have an opportunity to compare the data they collect in their learning logs to data generated in experiments on the International Space Station.

The Innovation Institute's young botanists transform into engineers when they face a series of design challenges to simulate micro-gravity in order to solve plant root growth problems under these conditions as well as create designs to solve problems raised by changes in gravitational pull that emerge from another physics challenge.

The Innovation Institute's team engages area research institutions and industries to help our students understand how and why real people are investigating the science behind and developing innovative solutions to the topics covered in this grade's curriculum.  

Learning entry points include the use of storytelling, fiction and non-fiction literature and art.