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The units in Mystery Science can be used as an entire science curriculum or as a supplement to what you're already teaching. The lessons will work best when students have opportunities to talk with each other about their ideas. During the explorations, pause to give kids a chance to hypothesize before the answers pop up on the screen. For example, when a video asks what will happen if we water one plant and don't water another, have kids stop and jot down their ideas before sharing their thoughts with the class. Mystery Science also features five-minute videos paired with writing prompts labeled as mini-lessons. Mini-lessons are best used to support nonfiction writing and are not a substitute for the standards-aligned full Mystery Science lessons.Continue reading Show less
Mystery Science features multimedia science units for K-5. Each lesson starts by posing a question commonly asked by kids, like "Do plants eat dirt?" or "Why are so many toys made out of plastic?" A series of short videos and prompts then guides a class discussion, followed by an experiment that can be done as a class. Lessons cover a wide range of topics, including light and sound, biodiversity, engineering, and the water cycle. Mystery Science encourages teacher collaboration with the capability to pin, tweet, or share units using various social media platforms.
Mystery Science isn't just a random collection of fascinating science facts; each example is tightly connected to the guiding questions and big ideas for the unit. The narrator of the videos is upbeat and makes kids giggle, especially when he acts surprised right along with them. At times, the videos can seem to lead kids a bit too much, or be a bit didactic, as the narrator sometimes makes observations for the kids. In one clip he says, "It seems like water kind of wakes up the seed and makes it start growing." Kids could benefit by pausing the video and sharing out their own ideas.
On the whole, there are plenty of opportunities for kids to reflect, puzzling over commonly asked questions. Be prepared for kids to be amazed, grossed out, and fascinated as they watch remarkable video clips, including one where a mouse is eaten by a plant. One of Mystery Science's biggest strengths is that it incorporates classroom experiments along with guided video explanations. Together, these two facets of the program do a great job addressing kids' questions and curiosities about the natural world. Students engage in science authentically, building on the ideas they develop in each unit. Videos walk classes through each experiment with examples, materials lists, and downloadable worksheets. The kindergarten and first grade Read-Along Mysteries are developmentally appropriate for kids still learning to read. They feature mysteries around questions that curious early elementary students ask like, "Why do woodpeckers peck wood?" With complete elementary units, Mystery Science is well poised to become a staple in many elementary school classrooms.
Key Standards Supported
Reading Informational Text
Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 3 topic or subject area.
Use information gained from illustrations (e.g., maps, photographs) and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text (e.g., where, when, why, and how key events occur).
Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect.
Key Standards Supported
Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
Make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats.
Analyze and interpret data from fossils to provide evidence of the organisms and the environments in which they lived long ago.
Use evidence to construct an explanation for how the variations in characteristics among individuals of the same species may provide advantages in surviving, finding mates, and reproducing.
Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular habitat some organisms can survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.
Make a claim about the merit of a solution to a problem caused when the environment changes and the types of plants and animals that live there may change.
Earth and Human Activity
Use a model to represent the relationship between the needs of different plants or animals (including humans) and the places they live.
Ask questions to obtain information about the purpose of weather forecasting to prepare for, and respond to, severe weather.
Communicate solutions that will reduce the impact of humans on the land, water, air, and/or other living things in the local environment.
Make a claim about the merit of a design solution that reduces the impacts of a weather-related hazard.
Generate and compare multiple solutions to reduce the impacts of natural Earth processes on humans.
Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.
Earth’s Place in the Universe
Use observations of the sun, moon, and stars to describe patterns that can be predicted.
Make observations at different times of year to relate the amount of daylight to the time of year.
Use information from several sources to provide evidence that Earth events can occur quickly or slowly.
Identify evidence from patterns in rock formations and fossils in rock layers to support an explanation for changes in a landscape over time.
Represent data in graphical displays to reveal patterns of daily changes in length and direction of shadows, day and night, and the seasonal appearance of some stars in the night sky.
Use and share observations of local weather conditions to describe patterns over time.
Construct an argument supported by evidence for how plants and animals (including humans) can change the environment to meet their needs.
Compare multiple solutions designed to slow or prevent wind or water from changing the shape of the land.
Develop a model to represent the shapes and kinds of land and bodies of water in an area.
Obtain information to identify where water is found on Earth and that it can be solid or liquid.
Represent data in tables and graphical displays to describe typical weather conditions expected during a particular season.
Obtain and combine information to describe climates in different regions of the world.
Make observations and/or measurements to provide evidence of the effects of weathering or the rate of erosion by water, ice, wind, or vegetation.
Analyze and interpret data from maps to describe patterns of Earth’s features.
Develop a model using an example to describe ways the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact.
Describe and graph the amounts and percentages of water and fresh water in various reservoirs to provide evidence about the distribution of water on Earth.
Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
Plan and conduct an investigation to determine if plants need sunlight and water to grow.
Develop a simple model that mimics the function of an animal in dispersing seeds or pollinating plants.
Construct an argument that some animals form groups that help members survive.
Develop a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment.
Make observations to determine the effect of sunlight on Earth’s surface.
Use tools and materials to design and build a structure that will reduce the warming effect of sunlight on an area.
Use evidence to construct an explanation relating the speed of an object to the energy of that object.
Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents.
Ask questions and predict outcomes about the changes in energy that occur when objects collide.
Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another.
Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.
Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.
Develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps it function as needed to solve a given problem.
Analyze data from tests of two objects designed to solve the same problem to compare the strengths and weaknesses of how each performs.
From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
Use observations to describe patterns of what plants and animals (including humans) need to survive.
Use materials to design a solution to a human problem by mimicking how plants and/or animals use their external parts to help them survive, grow, and meet their needs.
Read texts and use media to determine patterns in behavior of parents and offspring that help offspring survive.
Develop models to describe that organisms have unique and diverse life cycles but all have in common birth, growth, reproduction, and death.
Use evidence to support the explanation that traits can be influenced by the environment.
Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.
Use a model to describe that animals’ receive different types of information through their senses, process the information in their brain, and respond to the information in different ways.
Support an argument that plants get the materials they need for growth chiefly from air and water.
Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits
Make observations to construct an evidence-based account that young plants and animals are like, but not exactly like, their parents.
Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence that plants and animals have traits inherited from parents and that variation of these traits exists in a group of similar organisms.
Use evidence to support the explanation that traits can be influenced by the environment.
Matter and Its Interactions
Plan and conduct an investigation to describe and classify different kinds of materials by their observable properties.
Analyze data obtained from testing different materials to determine which materials have the properties that are best suited for an intended purpose.
Make observations to construct an evidence-based account of how an object made of a small set of pieces can be disassembled and made into a new object.
Construct an argument with evidence that some changes caused by heating or cooling can be reversed and some cannot.
Develop a model to describe that matter is made of particles too small to be seen.
Measure and graph quantities to provide evidence that regardless of the type of change that occurs when heating, cooling, or mixing substances, the total weight of matter is conserved.
Make observations and measurements to identify materials based on their properties.
Conduct an investigation to determine whether the mixing of two or more substances results in new substances.
Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions
Plan and conduct an investigation to compare the effects of different strengths or different directions of pushes and pulls on the motion of an object.
Analyze data to determine if a design solution works as intended to change the speed or direction of an object with a push or a pull.
Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence of the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces on the motion of an object.
Make observations and/or measurements of an object’s motion to provide evidence that a pattern can be used to predict future motion.
Ask questions to determine cause and effect relationships of electric or magnetic interactions between two objects not in contact with each other.
Define a simple design problem that can be solved by applying scientific ideas about magnets.
Waves and Their Applications in Technologies for Information Transfer
Plan and conduct investigations to provide evidence that vibrating materials can make sound and that sound can make materials vibrate.
Make observations to construct an evidence-based account that objects can be seen only when illuminated.
Plan and conduct an investigation to determine the effect of placing objects made with different materials in the path of a beam of light.
Use tools and materials to design and build a device that uses light or sound to solve the problem of communicating over a distance.
Develop a model of waves to describe patterns in terms of amplitude and wavelength and that waves can cause objects to move.
Develop a model to describe that light reflecting from objects and entering the eye allows objects to be seen.
Generate and compare multiple solutions that use patterns to transfer information.