Grades 2-3 (c) Course Description

Grade Three: Into the World Our Naked Eyes Cannot See--Of Microrganisms and Matter

Where the telescope ends the microscope begins. Which of the two has a grander view?
— Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

In this course, the common theme of size and scale takes students on an adventure that crosses life sciences, chemistry and physics pivotal to student's continued enjoyment of science and engineering as they progress through school. Of Microorganisms and Matter investigates the scientific realm of the invisible which, though unseen by the naked eye, becomes known in other ways—with the use of new tools and through properties, impacts and reactions. The overarching concepts of change and system guide exploration in this course.

This curricular sequence asks students to conceptually and literally look through different lens to describe:

  • What is a molecule, and how does understanding at the molecular level unlock a whole new way to understand the world and ourselves?
  • Similarly, what is a cell, and how does understanding at the cellular level unlock a whole new way to understand the world and ourselves?

To formulate answers to the above questions, students begin the course by delving into the microbial world. Some questions they explore include:

  • Why did one student come into class with a cough and now many students are coughing three days later?
  • Will I really get sick if I do not wear my hat?
  • What are bacteria, and why are some “good,” while others are “bad”?

Students examine microorganisms: their structure, function and impact to understand:

  • the characteristics and function of cells
  • single and multi-cellular organisms
  • cells as the microscopic building blocks of life

Students perform many experiments and go on a microbial scavenger hunt.

world. Some questions they explore include:

  • Why did one student come into class with a cough and now many students are coughing three days later?
  • Will I really get sick if I do not where my hat?
  • What are bacteria, and why are some “good,” while others are “bad”?

Students examine microorganisms: their structure, function and impact to understand:

  • the characteristics and function of cells
  • single and multi-cellular organisms
  • cells as the microscopic building blocks of life

Students perform many experiments and go on a microbial scavenger hunt.

Students make their introduction to the next invisible universe (i.e., molecular) by starting with an exploration of the study of “matter.” During this segment of the course, students engage actively in experimentation as they explore questions that include:

  • What is matter?
  • What are the properties and characteristics of different types of matter (e.g., size, weight, shape and stickiness) through separation of ‘mixtures’?

In the last sequence of this course, students investigate the building blocks of matter, i.e., molecules. Students focus on the molecular properties of solids, liquids and gases and the processes by which they change from one state to another to develop confidence and competence in their understanding of:

  • cause and effect (physical and chemical)
  • mass, weight and density of ‘matter’ (gas, solid and liquid)
  • the importance of scale

This exploration is done in a developmentally appropriate manner.

Over the course of the year, “nanotechnology” makes an ‘appearance’ as do fun photomicrographs (photographs taken through the microscope), and a wonderful tool called a spectrophotometer designed with young people in mind!

The engineering design challenges throughout this year-long class are full of surprises and calls for innovation and creative thinking and design!

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 story telling, fiction and non-fiction literature and art.