3rd Grade – Inquiry  Science

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Utilize techniques essential to scientific investigation.

- Recognizing inconsistencies

- Developing new questions

- Monitoring methods

- Selecting data samples

- Demonstrating critical thinking

- Recording observations

- Predicting possible results

- Classifying objects, events, and organisms  


What is the scientific method?

Kids Science Projects

Bunsen Bob's Science Hunt  Great information and links to help with science fair projects and ideas

Your Science Fair Project Resource Guide

Learn With Mysteries

Bizarre Stuff - Collection of simple science activities. Categories include gases/liquids, force, electricity, chemistry, sound/light, atmosphere, and more

Magic School Bus Activity Lab - Engage students in hands-on learning with games, projects, experiments, and coloring book.

Paper Airplane Science

Back Pack Science - Sink or Float

(1) How To Think Like a Scientist by Stephen Kramer and Felicia Bond     ISBN: 0-690-04565-4
(2) Einstein Anderson Science Detective Series by
Seymour Simon    
(3) Snake Scientist by Sy Montgomery 

Nature Journal
Recognize the effects of manipulated and controlled factors on the outcomes of events.

Demonstrate the appropriate use of instruments and procedures when learning new information.

Examples:  practicing safety procedures; storing and transporting microscopes, spring scales, and thermometers

Differentiate evidence from opinion. Know that scientists work to confirm and prove observations.

Apply mathematical knowledge and skills to scientific investigations.

 - Computation       - Probability       - Graphing          - Fractions

Recognize that the Earth is one of several planets that orbits the sun and that
 the moon orbits the Earth. Complete a project or activity about planets or our solar system.

Alka Seltzer Rockets

Glowing Glimpse of the Universe

Flight Paths of Orbiting Satellites

Bringing the Solar System to Life


How Stuff Works - The Sun

StarChild Learning Center

Reflections of a Star

Models of the Earth and Moon

Solar System Games

Know that space exploration confirms the Earth is spherical (round) in shape.

Can the curvature of the Earth only be seen from outer space?

Understand that telescopes are used to magnify the appearance of distant objects in the sky.

How Stuff Works - Telescopes

How Hubble Telescope Works

Know the patterns of stars stay the same, although they appear to move across the sky nightly, and different starts can be seen in different seasons.

Example: Assign students to go outside at night and notice the pattern of the stars. Find the big dipper. Locate the north star, phases of the moon, etc…
(1) The Reasons for Seasons by Gail Gibbons
(2) Seasons by Gail Gibbons
(3) Possum’s Harvest Moon by Anne Hunter
Recognize that the appearance of the moon changes.
Name the phases of the moon. Recognize the moon in each one of these phases.

Phases of the Moon

Phases of the Moon - Students model and observe the reason for and pattern of the phases of the moon using a softball and a light source.

The Earth, Sun, and Moon

The Earth, The Sun, and The Moon - Students learn how and why time is measured and gain a basic understanding of the interdependence of the Earth, Sun, and Moon with this integrated unit  

Moon Will Appear Larger Than Normal

Know energy comes from the Sun to Earth in the form of light.
Light has a source and travels in a direction. Students should know that sunlight can be blocked to create shadows.
Know that light is reflected from mirrors and other surfaces.
Explore light through experiments and activities.

Pictures From Light - With a lens, you can bend light to make pictures of the world.

Water Bending Light

Sundial Template - This is a sundial template to print out and make.

Making A Sun Clock - Students make and use a Sun Clock to tell time using shadows. Materials include a pencil, paper, magnetic compass, sun clock diagram and a sunny day.

The Science of Light - Learn about light as it relates to color, shadows, and perspective with information and hands-on activities.

Project Primary: Physics - Lesson plan, experiments, and activities investigating light and shadows.

Shadow Play - These are three activities to help young children understand the science behind shadows.  

Discovering the Earth's Journey Around the Sun

Understand How Light Travels In Straight Lines

Lesson Plan: Light

Lesson Plan: Colors of Light

Mystery of the Mirrors

Lesson Plan: Nature of Light

Adding Colors

Color of Light

Make a Pinhole Camera

Understand that the movement of the Earth determines the seasons and the length of day and night.

Understand that the position of the sun in the sky changes during the course of the day and from season to season.


What causes the seasons?

Students investigate ideas about seasonal changes

Observe a Leaf - Students will observe and describe leaves - autumn, fall, season.

Art education activities help develop the concept of the Earth/Moon's relationship to the Sun, the concept of seasons, and the concept of day and night.

How Do Earth-Sun Motions Depend on Point of View?

Threads of Inquiry: Observing the World Around Us - Series of ten hands-on, minds-on investigations focusing on the changing seasons.  

Know examples of life forms in different environments, such as oceans, deserts, tundra, forests, grasslands, and wetlands.


Edible Aquarium

Wave Maker

Creating Sand Dunes- Students learn the importance of proper dune management for conservation purposes with this activity that has students observe the effects of the wind on sand and then record their conclusions.

Shaving Cream Landforms - A hands-on lesson plan for making mountains, plateaus, hills, and plains with shaving cream


Ocean Unit

Why is the sea salty?

Desert Plant Survival

(1) Magic School Bus - Gets All Dried Up by Joanna Cole and Brue Degen   ISBN: 0590508318

(2) Dig, Wait Listen: A Desert Toad’s Tale by April Pulley Sayre and Barbara Bash   ISBN: 0-688-16614-8

Recognize that natural forces affect the surface of the Earth.

- Slow forces

Examples:  waves, wind, water, ice 

- Fast forces

Examples:earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes

The Magic School Bus Plays Ball: A Book About Forces


Wind Direction - Make a wind vane to gauge wind direction - from Education 

 Innovations Boost Wind Power

Wind Observation - Make a wind gauge and observe how wind affects the surrounding area - from Education Place.

Surface Tension

Blustery Beginnings - Lesson plans on classroom exploration of the wind. Includes a photo and video gallery, windy things to make, a booklist, and more

Earthquakes - Newton's Apple teacher's guide provides background information on earthquakes and activity suggestions for building a shake tray to test models of buildings

How Earthquakes Work

Earthquakes: The Rolling Earth - Lesson provides information on faults and theories about the causes of earthquakes. Click source for hands-on activities

The Earthquake Game (Grades K-3) - Activity introduces the use of earthquakes to track magma movement. Students and teachers represent the different parts of an earthquake

Salt Volcano - Make your own miniature "Lava Lite"

Volcanic Eruption

Volcanoes - Introduce students to how volcanoes are formed and what makes them erupt with this lesson

Build a Model Volcano - Paper model of volcano to print, color, cut out, and put together from the USGS.

Building Volcano Models - A site where one can learn how to build various model volcanoes through sets of clear instructions and pictures

Explore Exploding Volcanoes Webquest - Students study the four different types of volcanoes and what makes them hot and uses technology to prepare a presentation (Grades 3-5)

Hurricane! - Ten lessons on how our weather works, hurricanes, and hurricane safety preparations

How Hurricanes Work

Hurricanes - Students explore hurricanes and their formation, gather information, and graph several types of information that meteorologists use when studying hurricanes


Cyclone in a Bottle

(1) Forces by Karen Bryant Mole

Recognize that human-made activities affect the surface of the Earth.

- Excavation

- Deforestation/Reforestation

- Mining

- Farming

- Draining wetlands/Creating wetlands
Know that some kinds of animals that once lived on Earth have completely disappeared and that some of those resemble other animals that are alive today.


Dinosaur Sites

In Dino Days

Water the Dinosaurs Drank


Endangered Species

Investigate rocks and minerals.

- Observing physical characteristics

Examples: color, weight, luster, texture

- Comparing various rocks and minerals

- Grouping, using student’s own classification system

- Studying uses of rocks and minerals

Unit Study: Rocks

Rock and Mineral Images

Rock Hounds

Rockology 101

Mineral Information Institute - Download lessons, activities, guides, student pages and backgrounders on minerals and other natural resources (Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader).

Minerals, Crystals, and Gems: Stepping Stones to Inquiry - Mineral science is introduced with informational article and three lesson plans from Smithsonian in Your Classroom. Students identify common minerals, grow crystals, and more

Rock Classification - Students sort and classify rocks and minerals using distinguishing characteristics. Includes recipes for edible rocks

Rock Cycle Song - Young students learn how the three types of rocks are formed by singing a song

Rocks and Minerals - Lesson plans, hands-on activities, and information about rocks and minerals by grade 3 teacher

Rocks and Minerals - Students expand their knowledge of rocks by exploring the characteristics of local rocks with this integrated thematic unit

Learn about Mount Rushmore.  
Learn about starting a rock collection.

Rock Collecting

Rock Collecting - Bulging Pockets

Do one of the following projects:

Make a fake fossil.
Make a concrete milkshake.

Make rock candy.
Make Borax silly putty.

Make Decorative Sand Bottles.

Identify geological features of the Earth.  

- Sand dunes

- Mountains

- Valleys

- Bodies of water


Digging the Earth's Crust

Relate events in daily life to aspects of the water cycle.

Examples: water condensing on a glass of iced tea, water evaporating from a glass of water

Make a terrarium to show the process of the water cycle.  

Create a water cycle.


The Water Cycle - Students observe a simple model of the water cycle constructed from a plastic baggie and cup placed in a sunny window

The Water Cycle - Information for children, labeled water cycle diagram, and link to directions for making a water cycle model to use with experiments

Condensation- Demonstrate condensation by using ice, water, and cups in this activity.

Evaporation - This activity teaches the concept of evaporation with a damp sponge.

The Water Cycle - Have students build their own terrarium to teach the concepts of evaporation, precipitation, and condensation.

Water - Twelve to sixteen week environmental activities unit designed for Grade 3 students.

Magic School Bus at the Waterworks,  The (Teacherview) - Use the internet to help your students develop a further understanding about water and how it works. They can illustrate the water cycle and locate facts

http://www.fi.edu/fellows/fellow8/dec98/main.html- Students read ocean story books and complete creative writing activities, art activities, and experiments matched to each book  

Lesson Plan: Water Cycle

Complete an experiment involving water.

Water Experiments

Water Unit

Water Science

(1) Water, Water, Everywhere by Melvin Berger and Bobbi Tull   ISBN:  1-57102-056
(2) A Drop of Water by W. Wick  ISBN: 0590221973

Understand that the atmosphere is made of a variety of components.  - Gases    - Dust

Know that all matter is made of small particles called atoms, too small to see with the naked eye.

Explore Zone: Atoms

The A.T.O.M.S. Family   about energy, matter, and light

Atoms, Elements, Mixtures, and Compounds  a great place to start

Matter  Learn about the properties of atoms, ions, molecules and more in this interactive module.

Lesson Exchange: State of Matter Scavenger Hunt (Elementary, Science)

Know people once thought that earth, wind, fire, and water were the basic elements that made up all matter. Science experiments show that there are more than 100 different types of atoms, which are presented on the periodic table of the elements.

Periodic Table - in comic form

Proton Don  Check your knowledge of the periodic table the fun way.

Know that matter has three forms: solid, liquid, and gas. Complete an activity or experiment about solids, liquids, and gases.

Lesson Plans: Solids, Liquids, and Gases

Science Try It - Water Experiment

Liquid Layers

The Amazing Water Trick - Do hot water and cold water mix?




Heavy Water

Air Pressure

(1) What is the World Made Of? By Kathleen Zoefeld and Paul Meisel

Describe observable properties of the states of matter.

Examples:  solids have definite shape, liquids and gases take the shapes of their containers

Know that evaporation and melting are changes that occur when the objects are heated.

Evaporation Experiment

Describe characteristics of objects.

- Color      -  Shape       - Size        - Texture        - Weight        -Smell       -Taste (only when safe.)


Blue Skies and Red Sunsets
- A simple experiment exploring the colors we see in sunsets using a clear container of water, a flashlight, and a few drops of milk

Changes - Students study the properties of objects (color, shape, size, texture, smell) and how they change over time and communicate their observations through drawings, games, and discussions

Bubbularium - Make an observatory to see the amazing colors in bubbles!

Black Magic - Discover secret colors hidden in a black marker!

Reflecting Rainbows - Decorate your white walls with rainbow colors!

Identify the difference between chemical and physical changes.

Examples:         chemical change—rusting nails

                          physical change—melting wax


Seltzer Tablet Rocket - Students construct a rocket that is fueled by a seltzer tablet and observe types of chemical changes with this activity.

Chem4Kids Matter

Baggie Science

Recognize that some materials may respond differently to the same action.

Example: salt dissolves in water and sand does not
Recognize that matter occupies space and has mass.

ExploreZone - Matter

States of Matter

Lesson Plan: States of Matter

Lesson Plan: Solids, Liquids, and Gases

Outrageous Ooze

Making Ice Cream
- Hands-on activity allows students to make their own ice cream and discover concepts related to states of matter and the inclined plane

Properties of Matter - Third grade unit on properties of matter includes lessons, demonstrations, experiments, and activities

Properties of Matter Unit - Third graders examine physical properties of solids, liquids, and gases with activities and games.

What's The Matter

Explain ways that energy is useful and important.

Examples:   to do work, to heat water


Be "Sun"-sible About Heating Water - Energy conservation in the home is the focus of this lesson on solar energy. Activities include construction of a simple solar water heater

Energy Quest - Education site from the California Energy Commission.

Energy Webquest - Students work in groups to research various kinds of energy as well as the importance of saving energy

Recognize things and processes that give off heat.

Examples:   sun, fire, lamp; rubbing surfaces, sawing wood, bending wire
Explain the effects of heat on matter.
What is static electricity? Do an activity or experiment involving static electricity.

Science Made Simple - Static Electricity

Activities to explore static electricity


Explore electricity with experiments.

Edison's Miracle of Light  Be sure to visit the special; features section of great animated explanations

Physics4kids - Explore electricity, light, motion, and more.

Explore sound. (This is a great time to explore music or to make homemade musical instruments.)

- Characteristics

  • Production of sound         
  • Transmission of sound


Music Inventions - Students complete hands-on experiments to understand how sound is produced, then apply this knowledge to design and make a musical instrument

Musical Tube

Sounds Like Science: Bottle Organ
Sounds Like Science
: Drums
Sounds Like Science
: Guitars
Sounds Like Science
: Jamboree
Sounds Like Science
: Kazoo

Lesson Plan: Sound 1

Lesson Plan: Sound 2

Ringing Fork

Why Does My Voice Sound Different on a Tape Recorder?

Listen to the Bells

Ear Guitar - Share some secret sounds with a friend.

Secret Bells - An ordinary metal spoon can make some astounding sounds!

CANdemonium - Recycle some cans to make after-dinner music!

Lesson Plan: Wave Motion

Speed of Sound

How does a sound card work?

How does surround sound work?

How does movie sound work?

What is a decibel, and what is the loudest sound I can listen to before it hurts my ears?

Understand that gravity is a force that pulls objects toward the Earth.

How does gravity work?

Anti-Gravity Experiments

Project: Balance a checkbook with the center of gravity. 

Demonstrate that motion is a result of applying forces that are unequal.

Examples:               motion in a tug-of-war game, motion of a see-saw


Go With The Flow - Explore the movement of fluids and demonstrate turbulence with this experiment using a plastic bottle, liquid hand soap, and food coloring

Newton's Third Law - Mini unit that uses centers and stations to explore Newton's Third Law; for every action there is a reaction; for every force there is an equal and opposite force

Classify plants and animals according to their features.

- Physical      - Structural      - Behavioral

Go to the Birmingham Zoo.  


Learn to Classify.

Plant and Animal Characteristics - Young students investigate diverse characteristics of several plants and animals while observing, classifying, and experimenting to determine needs of plants and animals

Lesson Plan: Classification of Animals

Lesson Plan: Animals

Examine how fossils provide evidence of prehistoric life.

Example: fern fossil in coal or shale


What is a fossil?

Unit Study: Fossils

Digging Up Dinosaur Bones - Young students research dinosaurs to detemine how scientists learn about dinosaurs and the way they lived on Earth with this WebQuest

Dinosaur Babies, Fossils, and Make Your Own Dinosaur - An AskERIC lesson in which youngsters study fossils, identify dinosaurs and their babies, and make their own edible fossils using honey, peanut butter, and powdered milk

Dinosaur Clip Art - Dinosaur clip art includes cartoon dinosaurs and realistic dinosaurs

Dinosaur Coloring Books - Children color pictures in their books and read informational paragraphs to learn about their favorite dinosaurs

(1) Precious Stones (From This Earth) by William Russell
(2) Oil, Coal and Gas: From This Earth by William Russell
(3) Fossils (From This Earth) by William Russell
(4) Gold and Silver (From This Earth)  by William Russell

Examine inherited attributes of living things.

- Physical features

Examples: offspring resembling parents, coloration for camouflage
Developmental patterns
Raise your own butterflies.

Example: metamorphosis of the butterfly  


Families and Heredity - During a visit by two or more members of the same family, students notice what these visitors have in common. As an extension, students create a poster showing shared traits among their own family members

How does DNA evidence work?

Raise your own butterflies.

Lesson Plan: Butterflies


The Life Cycle of a Butterfly

Butterfly World

Butterflies of North America

Monarch Watch

Monarch Butterflies

(1) The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
(2) Hard-To-See Animals by Allan Fowler
(3) Box Turtle at Silver Pond by Susan Korman and Stephen Marchesi     ISBN: 1-56899-860-9
(4) Animals in Camouflage by Phyllis Limbacher Tildes
Become aware that the smallest unit of life is called a cell.
Recognize that living things are made of one or more cells.


Understand that species depend on one another and on their environment for survival.

Example: plants and animals in a food chain

Create a food chain.

The Food Chain Game

Another Food Chain Game

Food Chain Game 3

(1) Who Eats What? By Patricia Lauber  ISBN: 0-06-022981-0

Recognize helpful and harmful effects of organisms.

Examples: mold can be used to make penicillin, mold can cause food to decay


Encarta - Mold

Make Mold

Mold Terrarium - Watch tiny blue, green, and white plants grow on leftover food.

Describe how various organisms satisfy their needs (food, water, air, shelter, space) within their environments.
Understand the relationship of air, water, and soil to life on Earth.


Water in the city

Water Activities and Experiments

Describe how humans depend upon plants and animals.

 Examples: trees provide wood, sheep provide wool

Recognize relationships among science, technology, and society.

 Examples: chemical fertilizers increase crop yield, lasers make possible new surgical procedures

Become aware of ways to deal with discarded products that create waste disposal problems.- Reuse            - Redesign         - Recycle


Paper Recycling Facts 

Learn how to make recycled paper.

Make paper.

Paper Recipe

Paper or Plastic? 

Plastic Bag Ideas

Trash Disposal Choices

Rot and Recyling

Recycle Units of Study

How To Make A Compose Heap For Your Garden

Save the Planet - Help children learn the concept of recycling. Activity assists in identifying the numerous ways that recycling can be employed.

(1) Magic School Bus Meets the Rot Squad by Linda Beech and Carolyn Bracken   ISBN: 0590400231

Apply scientific knowledge and processes from one domain of science (Earth and Space, Physical, Life) to other fields of study.
Example: Alexander Graham Bell and his contribution to technology

Examples:  Learn scientific vocabulary words. Spell science related words. Write a science report. Use the Internet to research a topic in science.
Make a musical instrument and play it. Use graphs and charts in your experiments. Learn to use the SR3Q Reading method when reading a science book.
Exercise on your camping trip as you learn about nature. Exercise with a science walk where you classify different kinds of birds, leaves, trees, etc…

(1) The Magic School Bus Inside the Earth by Joanna Cole   ISBN: 0590407597
Recognize the importance of science to many careers.

Serve the community through a science-related project. Write about your community service project.

Examples: school-wide recycling, tree planting 


How to plant trees

Planting Trees

Tree Planting

Shade Trees

Lesson Plan: Trees

(1) The Hidden Forest by Jeannie Baker
(2) Ancient Ones: The World of the Old-Growth Douglas Fir  ISBN: 0-87156-561-7
(3) A Tree Is Nice by Janice Udry