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over 4 years ago

Balancing & Weighing

Balancing and Weighing introduces students to the relationship between balance and weight. Experiences with a beam balance introduce students to the concept that amount of weight, position of weight, and position of the fulcrum affect balance. Work with an equal-arm balance challenges students to place objects in serial order on the basis of weight and to appreciate that weighing is the process of balancing an object against a certain number of standard objects.

In the final lessons, students turn to a series of problem-solving investigations with the equal-arm balance and cupfuls of four different foods. These activities provide an opportunity to explore the relationship between weight, density, and volume.


In Soils, students investigate the chief components of soil—sand, clay, and humus—and explore the relationship between soil and plant growth. Early in the unit, they create their own compost bags. This activity enables them to observe the decomposition of different kinds of organic materials over time.

Students observe and read about earthworms to learn about their connection to plant roots and soils. The students also conduct tests that enable them to observe and compare such properties of soil as odor, appearance, and texture. Phenomena such as settling, water content, and soil consistency are also explored. These are then related to plant growth, as students plant cucumber seeds in a clear plastic tube.

By observing root growth, students learn about the role of roots in keeping the plant anchored and upright. In a final activity, students apply what they have learned to investigate a sample of local garden soil.


Organisms provides hands-on experiences that help students develop an understanding of and sensitivity to living things. Students create and maintain a woodland habitat containing pine seedlings, moss, pill bugs, and Bess beetles or millipedes. They also set up and observe a freshwater habitat into which they introduce Elodea and Cabomba plants, pond snails, and guppies.

With both plants and animals in each habitat, students have the opportunity to observe how these organisms coexist. Through studying the needs and characteristics of a variety of organisms, the students are able to draw conclusions about how plants and animals are similar and different. In a final lesson, students apply what they have learned about organisms to humans by exploring how humans are similar to and different from other living things.