Science Blog for March 2018

-Grade 1


Last month, students had a chance to observe how changing the shape of an object can change its ability to float. They used an engineering design process in order to make and test their models of clay.

DSCN3696.JPGDuring the month of March students will be working with magnets (Investigation 1: Solids). They will be testing 20 objects with a magnet and sort them into two groups: magnetic and non-magnetic. By doing the activity, they will learn that only objects made of certain metals are attracted to a magnet. Also, they will learn about the magnetic field of a magnet (magnetic field demonstrator will be used) and where is the magnet the strongest. They will investigate pulling power of magnets and the force of attraction and repulsion between two magnets.

The probe called “Big and Small Magnets” will be included into the study of magnets (argumentation in science). The probe is designed to reveal student’s ideas about the strength of a magnet in relation to the size of the magnet. The students will test their claim and collect evidence by using a variety of magnets of different strengths and sizes and a chain of paper clips.

After working with magnets, students will be using a balance in order to make comparisons between two objects. They will record comparisons by using binary symbols:

  • greater than/ heavier than (>)
  • less than/ lighter than (<)
  • equal to (=)

They will use some problem- solving strategies to figure out how to put six different objects in a serial order from lightest too heaviest.


-Grade 2



The students will be starting the Investigation 1: Balance. Only pre-assessment to the Unit 2 : Forces and Motion was done in February. This means that all the activities described in the last month blog will be done in March. Also, there will be discussion about symmetry, about how do we know if a shape is symmetrical.

The students will balance not only tag-board shapes but also a pencil (a wire attached to it) on its point with adding one or two clothespins as counterweights. They will balance a tongue depressor on a pencil. They will figure out where is the balance point (fulcrum).

They will do beam balance discoveries which will introduce the students to the concept that the amount of weight, position of weight and position of fulcrum affect the balance. These discoveries are the pre-requisite to the engineering- design process for building mobiles.

As a part of the study of balance, we will visit the website of the artist Michael Grab ( who is making amazing sculptures by balancing rocks.

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-Grade 3


The students are continuing the Investigation 4: The Third Degree with the activity called “Cooling Off.” The question of the activity is: “How cold does the temperature of water get when you add ice to room-temperature water?” The students will measure the temperature of room-temperature water. They will collect data on how fast water cools with ice, and graph their results in the form of a line graph. They will learn how to make a line graph and when to make it (changes over time.)

The students will read and analyze few articles related to measuring temperature. Also, they will calculate temperature change from a positive degree to a negative degree and explain how they did it (response sheet).

During the investigation 4 students will set up experiments representing physical and chemical change of matter. They will learn what is the difference between physical and chemical change of matter. They will use the skills gained by measuring matter (mass, volume, temperature) plus pH will be introduced and measured.

Due to the individual science fair projects there will be reinforced the concept of independent variable and controlled variables through setting up an experiment related to the question: “Which freezes faster, fresh water or salt water?”


-Grade 4


Screen Shot 2018-03-02 at 8.32.53 AM.png

 The students are continuing the Investigation 1: Electricity (Making Connections). They tested materials with a circuit tester (composed of a lightbulb, bulb holder/ socket, D-cell, battery and three wires). They need to finish the activity and write conclusion.

Next, they will include a switch to the simple circuit made with a lightbulb also with a motor. They will compare how is the motor circuit like the bulb circuit and how is it different. They will examine different types of switches. They will observe that a switch placed in a circuit controls the flow of electricity.

They will make schematic diagrams of a battery and bulb circuit as well as a battery, switch, and motor circuit. They will describe trouble-shooting technique, the steps necessary to use for finding out what is wrong with a circuit. They will discover through experimentation that metals that are covered with an insulating layer will not conduct electricity. They will have few probes (argumentation in science) to do related to the flow of electric current in the simple circuits.



Information for the Parents of Students Grades 3 & 4 – Individual Science Fair Projects


  • The independent variable should be included in the question of the science fair project.

For example:   How does the length of the string affect the pulling power of a magnet?

The independent variable is the length of the string.

  • The hypothesis needs to show the relationship between the independent variable and the dependent variable (results).
  • To learn more about the independent variable, controlled variables, and dependent variables (results) visit Science Buddies website at (Project Guide).
  • The students need to conduct a fair test that means to repeat their experiment at least three times (conduct 3 trials).

If they are working with plants, they need 9 plants (3 plants per trial).

  • All measurements need to be in the metric system-
    • Length in meters or centimeters
    • Mass in grams
    • Volume in liters or milliliters
    • Temperature in degrees Celsius


Upcoming Event: All Grades


There will be a new exhibit to see at the American Museum of Natural History entitled “Unseen Oceans.”

The exhibit will be opened to the public on Monday, March 12, 2018.

To learn more about the exhibit, visit

The Lower Lab School’s Science Fair will be held on Tuesday, June 12th!


February 8, 2018

Dear Lower Lab Families,

The Lower Lab School’s Science Fair will be held on Tuesday, June 12 (in the evening for parents only, details will be sent home at a later date) and Wednesday, June 13, 2018 (for students only). All projects will be done at home under adult supervision. The individual science fair project is mandatory for students in Grades 3, 4, 5 and will be part of their science grade on the Progress Report.

All students in Grades 3, 4, and 5 must submit the following:

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 Note: the short description of the idea for the Science Fair Project, the proposal, and the reports must be given to classroom teachers for Grades 3 and 4. Students of Grade 5 will submit all parts of their Science Fair Project to Claudia.

All final reports will be reviewed and returned to students at the conclusion of the oral presentations (after the Science Fair).

Please encourage children to begin to work on their projects early enough to avoid any last minute panic and stress.

Thank you for your support.

Please find entire Science Fair 2018 Packet Here!


Dr. Katarina H. Klaf

Science Blog for February 2018

-Grade 1

Sink The students will continue explorations of the Investigation 1: Solids.

They finished comparing solids that roll with solids that stack which represented sorting solids on the basis of their shapes.

They will examine (during the next lesson) the factors that affect how far a solid rolls that was placed on a ramp. They will test, collect data and write conclusion of four rolling balls (rubber ball, ping-pong ball, metal ball, and large marble).

The next physical property that will be observed by the students is finding out which solids float and which solids sink. The recording of the data will be done on the Venn diagram. Also a probe related to the sinking and floating will be used that shows thinking of the students (argumentation in science). Basically, the probe is designed to find out if students recognize that an object or material that sinks can be made to float by changing its shape (for example: using modeling clay).


-Grade 2 students will finish Investigation 4: Soil Observations.

They need to observe and describe the structures and the functions of the red wigglers (composting).

They will start Unit 2: Forces and Motion. During the Investigation 1: Balance they will explore the concepts of balance, counterbalance, counterweight, and stability by balancing tag-board (two-dimensional) shapes. They will discover through experimentation that objects can be balanced in many ways and that counterweights can help balance an object.


-Grade 3 students finished Investigation 3: Take Me to Your Liter.

They are starting Investigation 4: The Third Degree with an observation of a discrepant event in order to communicate the need for a standard unit for measuring temperature. They will measure the temperature of room- temperature water in degrees Celsius. They will collect data on how fast water cools off with ice and graph their results (line graph).

During the investigation, they will also calculate temperature change from a positive degree to a negative degree and explain how they did it (Response Sheet). One math extension related to the temperature will be included into the Investigation 4.


Reminder for the Parents of Grade 3


Please join us at the meeting scheduled for Wednesday February 14th in Auditorium, at 8:30 AM as we discuss the individual science fair projects.

Note: The letters describing the meeting went home on Thursday, February 1st.


-Grade 4 students are continuing the Investigation 1: Electricity.

They will build and compare simple circuits with a focus on how connections are done. They will identify the essential components of an electric circuit, understand their functions and also test whether objects are conductors or insulators. They will learn the conventions for drawing schematic diagrams of circuits. They will analyze another students drawing of a battery and bulb circuit to explain why it will or will not light.


Note for parents of Students Grade 3 & 4:

It is again the time of year when the students of upper grades are starting to work on their individual science fair projects. The packets that contain information regarding to the individual science fair projects will be sent home on Thursday, February 8th. The packet will be available also our school’s website.



Information for All Grades:

The book “Next Time You See a Sunset” written by Emily Morgan that was sent to the Space Station in August 2017 was already ready by the astronaut Mark Vande Hei. In order to hear the recorded reading of the story, visit

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Science Blog for January 2018

-Grade 1

         The students are starting the investigations of the Unit 2: Properties of Matter. The essential question for this unit is: How do we describe the properties of matter?

Basically, in this unit, students expand their awareness of the properties of solids and liquids.

The first investigation represents the study of properties of solids. These properties include: color, texture, shape, hardness, ability to roll or stack, magnetic attraction, float or sink. The students will be sorting solids into groups on the basis of their properties. Also, they will be comparing objects – heavier than, lighter than, equal to (using binary symbols <, >, =) and putting objects in the serial order from the lightest to the heaviest by using a balance. Above described investigation will be an ongoing experimentation through April 2018.

During the month of January, the students will be only sorting objects into groups based on the color, texture, shape, hardness, flexibility and their ability to roll or stack. They will be comparing similarities and differences among a variety of common solids expressed by using Venn Diagrams.


-Grade 2

The Scoop on Soils (cover)            The students will continue the Investigation 3: Using Rocks. The investigation was described in the science blog for December.

The Investigation 3 will be followed by the Investigation 4: Soil Observations. The students will find out through experimentation that soil contains particles of different sizes and that sand, clay and humus (organic matter) are three of the basic components in soil. They will gain an understanding of differences between soil and dirt as well as ability to describe and define different soil profiles. Phenomena such as settling, water content, and soil consistency will be also explored.

Within this investigation, the students will learn about composting with earthworms (red wigglers). They will observe and describe the structures and functions of ref wigglers.



-Grade 3

Image result for volume capacity for kids          The students started Investigation 3: Take Me to Your Liter before the holidays brake. Meantime, they will continue with the investigation. They will learn how to find the volume of an irregular object (for example: a rock) by using displacement of the water by an object.

They will try to solve a real word problem related to soda-can capacity. They will need to figure out if the amount of soda listed on the can (355 mL) represents the volume of soda in the can or the capacity of the can.

They will write a plan of testing the soda- can capacity, collect and record data, and write conclusion.

The students will also analyze few articles related to the measuring volume and capacity of different containers in the metric system.


-Grade 4

Image result for lighting bulb by using battery bulb and wire           The students will continue with the exploration of the meadow ecosystem. They will be putting together different food chains and a food web. They will discuss (argumentation in science) what happens when a link is removed from a food chain or a food web (for example: a producer is removed, or a primary, secondary consumer is removed), how this action affects the rest of the food chain or a food web, what are the consequences of the missing link.

There will be a lesson done in cooperation with the Art Farm Program. This lesson is scheduled for Wednesday, January 3rd. The animals that will be observed and discussed represent different ecosystems (dove- forest, chuckwalla- desert, chinchilla- mountains, walking stick- rain forest, box turtle- pond).

Towards the end of January, the students will start the Unit 2: Electricity and Magnetism. The essential question for this unit is: How does the use of electricity and magnetism affect our world?

The Investigation 1: Electricity introduces the students to the basic properties of electricity as they learn about electric circuits. At first, they will try to build a simple circuit by using a D- cell battery, bulb and a wire. They will discover through direct experience how many ways they can light a bulb by using only one battery, one bulb, and one wire.

Science Blog for December 2017

-Grade 1

Screen Shot 2017-11-29 at 12.49.17 PMIn the science blog for November 2017 you were informed about one lesson that would be done in cooperation with the Art Farm Program. The students had a great time during the lesson. They observed structures and functions of following invertebrates: walking sticks, Arizona blue death feigning beetle, moon crab, glowspot cockroach, Madagascar hissing cockroach and millipede. The last lesson in November was devoted partly to gaining more knowledge about the mentioned invertebrates.

Screen Shot 2017-11-29 at 12.43.48 PMDuring the month of December, students will finish the Investigation 4: Milkweed Bugs. They will learn about some aquatic insects that go through four stages of development (egg, larva, pupa, adult) or three stages of development (egg, nymph, adult) within the Investigation 5: Other Insects. At this time, the investigation 5 will represent the end of the unit 1. One more investigation related to unit 1 will be done in May 2018 (The Life Cycle of  a Butterfly).
-Grade 2

Screen Shot 2017-11-29 at 12.50.48 PM.pngStudents will start the Investigation 3: Using Rocks. They will explore places where earth materials are naturally found and ways that earth materials are used based on their properties. They will observe and compare different grades of sandpaper (make sandpaper rubbings of three different sandpapers- fine, medium, coarse). Also, they will be working with a clay and they will learn about the size of the clay particles.

-Grade 3

Screen Shot 2017-11-29 at 12.56.06 PM.pngStudents are finishing Investigation 2: Weight Watching. During the investigation, they learned how to set up an experiment with only one independent variable and the rest of the variables controlled. The Investigation 2 will be followed by the Investigation 3: Take Me to a Liter. In this investigation, students will discover the need for a standard unit of measuring volume and capacity in metric system (liters and milliliters). They will use appropriate tools (beakers, graduated cylinders) to measure volumes of liquids and capacities of containers.

-Grade 4

Screen Shot 2017-11-29 at 12.58.14 PM.pngStudents are continuing the Investigations 2 and 3 what concern the study of ecosystems (described in November’s Blog). They will learn the note- taking strategies based on the book “Owls- Animal Predators” by Sandra Markle. They will put together food chains and a food web related to the meadows ecosystem.

Note: At home, the students can use virtual owl pellet dissection. 2

They can find it on the following website:

In order to learn more about the food chains and webs they are encouraged to use Interactive Learning sites for Education.


Note: Grades 1-4

Screen Shot 2017-11-29 at 1.01.06 PM.pngAs it was indicated before, all science investigations include reading selections (plus we add to it outstanding children science trade books recommended by the National Science Teacher Association and the digital media) and math extensions related to the topic.

Also, they require to implement scientific thinking processes when conducting experiments and building explanations like: observing, organizing, describing, comparing and contrasting, analyzing and interpreting data, evaluating and communicating (engaging in argument from evidence).

Event: All Grades

Screen Shot 2017-11-29 at 12.59.48 PM.pngThere is a new exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History (until January 2019) called “Our Senses: an Immersive Experience.” You can find the information about the exhibit at . The exhibit is highly interactive and provides a great learning experience.


Website to Explore:

OLogy: a Science Website for Kids –


( )



Science Blog for November 2017

-Grade 1

Students will be learning about the insects that go through incomplete metamorphosis (three stages of development)- egg, nymph, adult. This represents Investigation 3: Crickets (described in the October’s Blog) and Investigation 4: Milkweed Bugs. They will be observing and recording structures and behaviors of crickets (nymph and adults) as well as the milkweed bugs (nymphs and adults).

There also will be one lesson done in cooperation with the Art Farm on Wednesday, November 22nd (both Grade 1 classes). The theme of the lesson is “Invertebrates.”


-Grade 2

Students will be continuing the Investigation2: River Rocks. They will explore river rock mixture containing earth material particles of various sizes. They will separate the rock mixture according to the sizes of the particles into 5 groups: sand, small gravel, large gravel, small pebbles, and large pebbles. They will learn about the smaller particles than sand which are called silt and yet smaller particles than silt called clay through experimentation.

There will be two math extensions used as apart of the investigation and few reading selections.

-Grade 3

Students will be working on the Investigation 2: How Heavy Is It? (This investigation was already described in the October’s Blog.) During this investigation, they will learn also how to set up a controlled experiment that has only one independent variable and the rest of the variables are controlled.
They will analyze a great article called “Opinion or Evidence” and few other reading selections.
Note: All investigations have a challenging real math word problem for students to solve and a response sheet that requires the use of the thinking skills (application of the knowledge to the new situation).


-Grade 4

Students learned about the role of the plants as producers in the ecosystem. They started to observe the structures and behaviors of primary consumers (crickets) and secondary consumers (green anoles), which represent Investigation 2. Within this investigation they will dissect owl pellets and learn what an owl eats and how is the owl linked back to the plants what concern the transfer of energy (food chains, food webs).

The Investigation 2 will be followed by Investigation 3: The Role of the Decomposers in an Ecosystem. The students will observe and record the structures and behaviors of pill bugs, sow bugs, bess beetles and earthworms.

Note: Once a week we will review the homework plus provide extension for it. The first homework is due on Thursday, November 2nd for Donna’s Class and on Friday, November 3rd for Ms. Courtwright’s Class.

Please make sure that your child does the homework and brings the Coach Workbook to school on the days allocated for the reviews. The full schedule of the dates including the lessons and pages (until almost the end of January 2018) is attached in the workbook.



Reminder (for Grades 1-4):

Please do not forget to stop by the science lab during the parent-teacher conferences to discuss your child’s progress on Thursday, November 16th (afternoon or evening).


Science Blog for October 2017

The science inquiry- based curriculum for the school year 2017-2018 is in full swing. We did all the pre-assessments for the units of study (for Grades1-4) that drive the instructions and started the investigations as they were described in September’s Blog.


Plans for October


-Grade 1

Students are continuing with the Investigation 1: Mealworms. They observed the mealworm larva and learned about its structures and behaviors. They will learn through observations the life cycle of the darkling beetle (four stages of development: egg, larva, pupa, adult) what we call a complete metamorphosis. They will solve two math extensions related to the mealworms.

The Investigation 1 will be followed by the Investigation 2: Waxworms (structures, behaviors, life cycle- complete metamorphosis: four stages of development like in the case of the mealworm. The adult is not a beetle but a moth) and by the Investigation 3: Crickets (structures, behaviors, life cycle- incomplete metamorphosis; three stages of development: egg, nymph, adult).


-Grade 2

Students finished Investigation 1: Three Rocks. They observed and described the physical properties of three different igneous rocks (Scoria, Basalt and Tuff).

During the next lesson, they will be (are) starting the Investigation 2: River Rocks. They will be sorting twenty river rocks according to different physical properties (for example: texture, size, hardness, color, etc.) and screening river rocks according to the size (sand, gravel, pebbles). They will be making pictographs and solving a few math extensions related to the investigation.


-Grade 3

Students will be continuing with the Investigation 1: How Long Is It? They made their meter tapes and started to estimate and measure the length of different objects. Soon, they will have a homework assignment that will require to measure the length and width of a bed and record the measurements in metric units (meters, centimeters).

The Investigation 1 will be followed by the Investigation 2: How Heavy Is It? Students will be estimating, measuring, and recording the mass of different objects in metric units (grams).  Students will be reading, taking notes, and analyzing articles (reading selections) related to the investigations.


-Grade 4

Students are finishing the Investigation 1: Plants and Soil. They learned what nutrients the plants need for their growth and development. They will be starting Investigation 2: Role of Plants as Producers. They will learn how we propagate plants; why the plants are an important part of an ecosystem; why the plants are called producers; what is the difference between photosynthesis and phototropism. They will also read and analyze articles related to the investigations and work on the math extensions.

The 8th Annual World Maker Fair

Screen Shot 2017-09-14 at 4.02.52 PM.pngThe 8th Annual World Maker Fair will take place on Saturday, September 23, 2017 (from 10am-6pm) and on Sunday, September 24,2017(from 10am-6pm) at the New York Hall of Science (47-01 111th Street,Queens,NY).

The Maker Fair is described as the greatest show and tell on Earth. The attendees of the fair will experience the future (great innovations) that will spark their curiosity. They will  learn interesting things from makers of all ages and have an opportunity to design and make something. At the same time, they will have fun.

This is not a free event. It is necessary to buy tickets in order to attend.

Thank you very much.

All the Best,


Science in September

Elementary Science Core Curriculum:

  • NYC K-5 Science Scope & Sequence:

  • NYS Elementary Science Core Curriculum

Science Materials – Kits used in the classroom:

How are students learning?

  • The Learning Cycle: Exploration à Concept Development à Concept Application
  • Application – learning by “doing”

What goes on in the Science Lab?

  • Science Lesson Structure: Workshop Model

What are students “doing” in the Science Lab?

  • Inquiry-based Investigations
  • Writing in the Science Class: Science Notebooks and Record Sheets

What are students expected to do at home?

  • Homework Assignments: reading (Gr. 1-4), interdisciplinary extensions (Gr. 3-4), end of unit project (Gr. 2-4), Science Fair project (Gr. 3-5).


How is student learning assessed?

Assessment of Student Understanding:

  • Informal Assessment (e.g., FOSS Survey/Posttest and an I-check after each investigation; purpose: check for student understanding and adjust teaching accordingly)
  • Probes: Uncovering Student Ideas in Science
  • Formal Assessment
    • New York State Science Assessment: Grade 4 only
      • Performance Part of the Science Test: May 23, 24 & 25, 2018
      • Written Part (multiple choice & constructive responses): June 4, 2018.

Science Enrichment

  1. School-wide Science Fair
  • Save-the-dates: Wednesday, June 13 and Thursday, June 14, 2018
  • Workshop- Science Fair Project Preparation for parents of students Grade 3 and new students of Grades 4 planned for February 14, 2018, 8:30am, Location: Auditorium.
  1. National Science League Competition
  • Multiple Choice Competition for all students of grades 4 & 5, around April 23, 2018.



Resources that support the Science Curriculum:

  1. Recommendation Science magazines for children:


  1. Internet Resources for Children:



Resource for Parents:

Achieve NYC: A Complete Guide to New York City Public Schools, PK-12, 2017-2018



First Unit of Study by Grade (Investigation 1 of 4 or 5 depending on grade):

Note: Analysis of the reading sections (in oral and written forms) is an integral part of the units for all grades. All investigations contain math extensions and incorporate technology.



Grade 1 Animal DiversityEssential Question: How are animals alike and different?

Investigation 1 – Observation of the Behaviors and Structures of Mealworms

Students will observe (record their observations) and learn about the life cycle (metamorphosis) of the mealworms.

Grade 2 Earth MaterialsEssential Question: How do different materials affect the makeup of the Earth?

Investigation 1 – Comparing, Sorting, and Describing Rocks

Students will observe different rocks and compare how they are alike or different.   They will be sorting and describing rocks according to their physical properties (color, texture, hardness, luster, patterns, float/sink, magnetism).

Grade 3 MatterEssential Question: How can we accurately describe the physical properties of matter?

Investigation 1 – How Long Is It?

Students will be estimating and measuring the length of a variety of objects by using appropriate tools and units of measurement.

(Note: Only metric units of measurement will be used.)

Grade 4 Animals and Plants in Their EnvironmentEssential Question: What are the interactions of animals and plants within an ecosystem?

Investigation 1 – Plants and Soil

Students will grow plants (from seeds) in different soils. They will learn about the nutrients that plants need for their development and survival. They will set up experiments with one independent variable. This will lead them to find out why plants are called producers.