Name of Unit Basic Science – Animals + Matter
Author(s) Nikita Saxena & Elizabeth Weber-Bruya
School Columbus School
Teacher Joseph Plati
Brief Description This unit introduces using a 4th grade classrooms to the animal and matter units of their science curriculum. Lessons are based on the state standards and were developed in accordance with the teacher’s timeline. This curriculum uses an ‘ecosystem’ theme to tie together animals and matter. Students are paired and assigned an animal within the forest ecosystem, and continue to work with their assigned animal throughout the unit.
Grade(s) 4th
Keywords Columbus, Plato, 4th grade, Basic Science, animals, adaptation, habitat, ecosystem, matter
Number of Weeks 8
Week 1  Basic Animals and Common Needs

Students enjoyed the way this lesson tied into their classroom curriculum. Their background allowed them to adequately identify the animal needs of their specific animal, and they appreciated how many animals work together to create an interdependent ecosystem.

Week 2  Adaptations to Basic Needs

Continuing on the animal theme, students identified animal needs that their assigned animals required to successfully function in their habitat. Making this activity interactive helped to keep the students engaged.

Week 4 Animal Classification

This lesson went hand in hand with what our teacher had planned for the day. An introductory video was shown, after which students could correctly classify animals as vertebrates or invertebrates. They identified animals of both types within the animal ecosystem. Making this activity more hands-on would have helped make it more interesting to the class.

Week 5

Intro to Matter – Physical Changes

This activity allowed students to use Legos to build models of their assigned animals and then take measurements. It was a very interdisciplinary lesson – there was building with Legos, measuring lengths and weights, and then graphing of data. Students stayed engaged although had slight difficulty with the graphing.

Week 6 Paper Towers

After difficulty with curriculum matching with our classroom teacher, we switched to a more building-centric curriculum. This was an easy switch as the students had clearly enjoyed our hands-on building activities in the past. They really liked paper towers, and were able to identify what contributed to strong structures that held up many books. There were some surprises to the class, which made for great discussion and a successful class session. These activities allowed us to introduce the EDP which quickly became intuitive to the students as they brainstormed, designed, and retested.

Week 7 Spaghetti Towers
Week 8 Build Cars

Students used Legos to build sturdy cars with a given type of wheel. The goal was to ensure that car models did not break after a drop from desk height. Students employed a variety of methods to meet this goal, and most of the class successfully used the EDP to create a final model.

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