Grade 3

In Grade Three, students continue building their learning by focusing on weather and climate, why do things move (force and motion), and a deep study of the Charles River (which is integrated with Social Studies and English Language Arts). Science and engineering practices are woven throughout all of the science content, as well as the use of science notebooks and integration with the other curriculum areas. Students learn about scientists and engineers from diverse backgrounds and reflect on how they (as student scientists and engineers) are similar to them.

Unit Description Essential Questions
Introduction to Science and Science Notebooks
At every grade level (JK-8), Cambridge students begin the year exploring what science is, why science is important to them, who scientists are and what they do, and how they will use science notebooks to record their questions, observations, ideas and explanations throughout the year. These skills build over time as students move from grade to grade.
What is science? Why is it important to me? 

Who are scientists and what do they do? 

How and why do scientists use science notebooks? 
How Does Weather and Climate Affect Living Things?
Students learn the difference between weather (which describes what’s happening each day in our atmosphere at a specific place) and climate (average weather patterns in a place over many years). They use graphs to describe different climates, then gather evidence on how climates around the world differ from our climate in Cambridge. Students then compare how animals and plants survive in different climates. Finally, they research different types of extreme weather and participate in an Engineering Design Challenge to design a structure using recycled materials that can withstand a certain type of extreme weather.
What is the difference between weather and climate?

How do scientists use graphs to see patterns in climate?

How and why do climates differ around the world?

How do animals and plants that live in different climates surface?

What is extreme weather and what do engineers do to protect living things from its effects?
Why Do Things Move?
In order to figure out what’s happening in a marble run video, students explore how different forces affect the motion of objects via hands-on investigations. They use what they learn to design and build their own marble runs using the Engineering Design Process. As a culminating assessment, they explain the forces involved in their projects.
Why do things move, speed up, slow down and stay still?
Charles River Explorations
In this place-based, interdisciplinary unit, students learn about rivers, Cambridge history, animal and plant adaptations and connections, life cycles and the human impact on the environment in the context of the Charles River. Students take action to protect the river by creating a field guide to the Charles River, which will communicate the need to protect the plants and animals of our river.
Why should we protect the Charles River and the living things that live in and near it?

Department Information

Elementary Science

Middle School Science

High School Science

Contact Us
Janet MacNeil, JK-12 Science Coordinator
Allan Gehant, Dean of Curriculum, CRLS
Patty McGaffigan, District Science Coach (6-8)
Susan Agger, Maynard Ecology Center Director
Donna Pereira, Science Materials Manager

Science Department
359 Broadway, Cambridge
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