Kindergartner’s are scientists and engineers actively exploring animals, plants and the habitats that sustain them. The academic year-long kindergarten curriculum provides our youngest learners with a wonderful opportunity to examine in depth: living organisms, their requirements for life, and the environments in which they live.
The young students build a variety of habitats (e.g., tropical,
woodland and wetland) and then observe living organisms within each. Guided by their instructors, students engage in building and
observing dynamic environments, which introduce them to the important unifying concepts
of change and systems. They learn about scientific practices of
observation, testing and data collection. Students also travel to Botswana (virtually) to observe very different habitats than those close to home.
Importantly, students have many opportunities within the classroom and lab to investigate live examples from the plant and animal kingdoms, including stick insects, salamanders, frogs, fish, woolly bear caterpillars, crickets, grasshoppers, and milkweed bugs to name a few.
Students learn about plants, animals and habits, they explore in some depth questions that include:
- What is a life cycle? How do life cycles vary for plants and animal?
- What is a food chain?
- What are the requirements for life for plants and animals?
- What do plants and animals need to thrive?
- How can we classify animals?
- What are the differences between different habitats, e.g., woodland, wetland, subtropical, etc?
- What is an ecosystem?
Kindergartners receive visits from "mystery" plants and animals as a way to bring their lessons alive through exposure to the natural world within the classroom.
Changes within the habitats that students build requires them to become engineer problem solvers, too. Kindergartners as engineers face challenges that they observe within their habitats. Students identify these challenges and attempt to design solutions. Teachers guide students through engineering design processes that include challenges for clean water and plant fertilization.
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.