Review by Emily Pohlonski, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2015

Mosa Mack Science

Engaging design challenges turn kids into actual science detectives

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • Science
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
5-8
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (2 Reviews)

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Pros: Kids see a reason to learn major science concepts because they're solving relatively realistic problems.

Cons: Some investigations could be more tightly linked to the problems presented in the initial video.

Bottom Line: An engaging way to weave some engineering into your middle school science lessons.

Middle School Teachers who are looking for ways to meet the Engineering Standards in NGSS will love Mosa Mack Science. Be sure to use Mosa Mack's units in a way that keeps the science content central to solving the problem at hand. This way you can help kids to see science as necessary and useful. When letting kids design their own investigations, start by placing all the materials they might want to use at a central location. It's important to give kids time to puzzle over their problem, look over the materials, and make a plan. Allow your students to share out plans with the class and build on each other’s ideas.

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MOSA Mack Science features earth, physical, and life science units aimed at middle school classrooms; each unit emphasizes the NGSS Science and Engineering Practices. Students start by watching a cartoon featuring the likable character, Mosa Mack: Science Detective, a young woman who solves science problems. Teachers can organize each unit around a host of provided materials: lesson plans, graphic organizers, quizzes, slideshow presentations, videos, and rubrics.

The videos here are used to introduce a problem, like the Mystery of the Ailing Fern, as well as the high yield vocabulary necessary to create a solution. The program's Lesson 2, or “The Make" is a hands-on investigation where students might find themselves at stations, exploring the different states of matter. Lesson 3: "The Engineer" closes each unit with a design challenge where students can utilize the content they've learned so far.  

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Mosa Mack Science's units are engaging because kids actually get to use and apply their science knowledge. Within the second part of each lesson, or “The Make,” teachers have access to plans with leveled differentiation options. Level 1 is simply a teacher demo, while level 4 has students completely design and conduct an investigation themselves, addressing the NGSS Science and Engineering Practices. A few of the inquiry investigations could seem a little bit unnecessary. For example, creating a model to see the effect that trapped heat has on temperature -- most middle school kids will get -- without the investigation -- that this makes it warmer. Nevertheless, the focus on getting kids to do science is top notch.

The unit and lesson plans are well thought out with plenty of teacher resources. Many student handouts move beyond the traditional worksheet; the Photosynthesis Mind Map, for example, is a graphic organizer that helps kids tie together the vocabulary and the images. Mosa Mack's “The Engineer” design challenges are what help it stand out the most. Kids solve engaging design challenges and become actual science detectives -- they'll really have to use science to solve problems. In one scenario, for example, students help a Pet Store owner who has run out of oxygen pumps -- they'll learn about photosynthesis before engineering a solution using the water plant Elodea. Sample solutions and detailed descriptions of materials needed support teachers throughout. Though many of the units also are labeled with the High School NGSS performance expectations, the content is really geared toward middle school kids.

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Kids stay engaged because they're at the center of this type of learning. The funny, short cartoons naturally hook students into solving the problems.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

The program helps teachers address all three dimensions of the Next Generation of Science standards. Kids get content centered on core ideas and a chance to investigate and engineer solutions.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Videos have subtitles in English and Spanish. Teachers have access to answer keys, as well as detailed lesson plans that include options for differentiation.


Common Sense Reviewer
Emily Pohlonski Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 2 reviews) (2 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Monica M. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Wimbish Elementary School
Arlington, TX
Wonderful opportunity to increase student engagement!

I absolutely love this website! It's very helpful in creating ways to increase student engagement!

Read full review